ALGONQUIN – A few weeks ago, when McHenry’s girls basketball team changed its offense to accommodate more play in the paint, Greta Taylor got excited.
The junior forward felt she could thrive in an offense that includes two other post players, and she showed her abilities Tuesday against Jacobs, particularly when McHenry lost star senior forward Brittany Avonts to an injury late in the first quarter.
Taylor’s field goals all came in the paint, including six off backdoor passes from her teammates. Her game-high 20 points and tenacity were especially critical given Avonts’ absence, and the effort helped the Warriors beat Jacobs, 54-39, in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division contest.
“I like those (plays) a lot,” said Taylor of backdoor plays that have become a staple of McHenry’s new offense. “That’s one thing we emphasize because no one sees them coming.”
The Warriors trailed 9-6 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Taylor scored her first field goal on a short jumper inside.
Avonts followed it with a putback that lifted McHenry (5-5 overall, 2-1 FVC Valley) back on top, 10-9, but fell hard on her tailbone on the Warriors’ next possession when she tried to score off another rebound. Avonts was helped off the court and remained on the sideline. McHenry coach Scott Morris said he believes Avonts suffered a bruise, and hopes she will not miss time.
Determined to rally around their fallen teammate, the Warriors put together a 14-3 run that capped the first quarter and spilled into the second. Taylor converted three transition layups and two free throws during the sequence, and senior guard Laura D’Angelo (13 points) knocked down a 3-pointer to help McHenry lead 24-12 with 3:39 left in the first half.
“She’s been working really hard in practice,” said Morris of Taylor. “She had her time and did a good job tonight. We tried to change the lineup to go big and it’s really starting to pay off.”
Jacobs (0-9, 0-1) crept within eight, 30-22, with 6:24 remaining in the third on a putback from senior guard Victoria Tamburrino (eight points). McHenry answered with another D’Angelo 3-pointer, and a backdoor bucket and two free throws from Taylor. McHenry led 37-22 and never allowed Jacobs to get closer than 11 points again.
The Golden Eagles hit the boards hard despite their size disadvantage, and scored three of their first three second-half field goals on second and third possessions. Jacobs outrebounded the Warriors 25-24 – a statistic that underscores the Eagles’ aggression and determination this season.
“I’m not disappointed in how we tried to get after it,” Jacobs coach Joe Benoit said. “But it still has to be better. Credit McHenry, especially with Avonts going out in the first quarter. For them to rally around themselves and play as hard as they did and as together as they did, I think we can learn a lot from them tonight.”