CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake South girls basketball team was determined to answer Cary-Grove’s physical play on both ends of the court Friday.
The Gators refused to back down, aggressively attacking the boards and pounding the ball inside. That quickly led to foul trouble for the Trojans’ top scorers, Olivia Jakubicek and Josyln Nicholson, and South capitalized on their limited minutes. Trailing by one with 2:18 remaining, the Gators scored six straight points and their defense shut down the Trojans as South pulled out a 45-43 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win.
The win is South’s first against Cary-Grove since 2009.
Neither team led by more than six points.
“Every night you step on the floor with Cary, you know that they’re going to bring an intensity level that you can’t simulate,” Gators coach Kyle McCaughn said. “You can’t do anything in practice to make it as physical and quick as it is when they’re out there. That’s just the way they play.”
A 6-0 run early in the fourth quarter, spearheaded by Sara Mickow’s five straight points, quickly erased a 31-26 C-G lead.
The Trojans (5-4 overall, 1-1 FVC Valley) tried to overcome Nicholson and Jakubicek’s foul troubles. Both picked up their second foul within six seconds of each other, just one minute into the second quarter. Jakubicek was forced to sit nearly six minutes in the second half after picking up her fourth foul and eventually fouled out.
Junior guard Abby Glaysher picked up the scoring slack for C-G, finishing with 11 points, but the offense struggled to generate offense especially in the third quarter.
“We have a tendency to pick up too many fouls,” C-G coach Rod Saffert said. “I’m not going to say I’m totally pleased with the referring tonight. There were some miscues on their part too, but it was both ways.”
Although South struggled at the foul line (14 for 24), four Gators scored at least nine points, led by Mickow (13 points) and Chanel Fanter (11).
“We’d go on little runs and then we’d fall off,” said Carly Nolan, who added 10 points. “It was back and forth momentum, but we’ve worked so hard and power through it. We knew they’d come back stronger in the second half.”
The Gators (6-3, 1-0) adopted the philosophy that anyone could beat them except Nicholson or Jakubicek. They executed their plan, utilizing a 2-3 zone defense.
Any time Jakubicek caught the basketball in the short corner, two Gators would converge leaving her few options. South’s strategy clearly frustrated Jakubicek, who was held to five points partly because of foul trouble. Her lone field goal came with 3:18 left in the fourth to pull the Trojans within one point, 39-38.
“We were trying to not let [Jakubicek] get it in the short corner at all and then when she did get it we were trying to force it more on her and block her out and focus on her when she had it,” said Mickow, who added 14 rebounds. “I feel like our defense really shut them down for a while and helped us in the long run with our offense. Defense giving us momentum and then us converting on the offensive end.”