CRYSTAL LAKE – It’s not how you start the game. It’s how you finish.
Such was the case for Crystal Lake South on Thursday as the Gators improved each quarter in their 66-49 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division girls basketball victory over McHenry.
In what was a back-and-forth affair in the first quarter, South coach Kyle McCaughn had seen enough and wanted his players to hear about it. During a timeout, McCaughn stressed that the Gators were allowing too much dribble penetration. Message received.
The Gators (14-11 overall, 6-4 FVC Valley) turned up the intensity on both sides of the ball and took a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
“McHenry started the game very well and came out with a lot of energy,” McCaughn said. “I felt like we played better as the game went on. We actually used three different defenses tonight, which I think helped keep McHenry guessing. We were able to force some turnovers tonight and get points off of them. I’m really happy with how the team played tonight,”
South had three players account for 59 of the team’s 66 points. Chanel Fanter led the Gators with 22 points, Rachel Rasmussen had 19 points, and Sara Mickow added 18 points to go with 17 rebounds.
“We were able to hit some shots tonight and really got rolling on offense,” Mickow said. “I was able to get the ball in the post and, if I didn’t have an open look, was able to kick it out to our outside shooters. Defensively, we played a lot better as the game went on. Coach really wanted us to pick up our intensity, and we did that the last three quarters.”
McHenry (9-17,1-9) went on a nice run of its own and pulled to within 11 points with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. The Gators ended that rally on a Rachel Rasmussen 3-pointer with five minutes left in the game. South made seven 3-pointers on the night.
Warriors coach Scott Morris was happy with the effort given by his team.
“We definitely fought hard tonight,” Morris said. “We really battled all night. I thought we broke down a little in the second and third quarters and that is what really hurt us in the end. A couple of loose balls here and there and it could have turned out different. Great effort tonight.”
McHenry was led by Sawyer Lay with 24 points and McKayla Snedeker with 13 points.