CRYSTAL LAKE – Five days removed from a disappointing loss to Dundee-Crown, the Crystal Lake South girls basketball team knew it needed to be building momentum for the looming postseason.
With Friday's game against Cary-Grove being the final home game for the Gators' three seniors, South wanted to start strong. The Gators' effort produced one of their more complete games of the season, as they led the entire game en route to a 52-40 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory.
Senior guard Rachel Rasmussen, who led South with 14 points, said her team really wanted to win on senior night.
"It was definitely senior night. I think that's what really pushed us, especially in the first quarter," Rasmussen said. "We kept that going."
The Gators (15-11 overall, 7-4 FVC Valley) built a 30-16 halftime lead, thanks to the inside-outside combination of senior forward Sara Mickow scoring seven of her 13 points in the first half, while sophomore guard Chanel Fanter and Rasmussen combined for 14 points. South’s 2-3 zone defense didn’t give the Trojans (15-11, 6-6) too many open looks, and some untimely turnovers didn’t help C-G's offense. Fanter finished with 12 points.
"I would love to say we're peaking, but I don't know if we've come close to hitting our ceiling yet," South coach Kyle McCaughn said. "I love the attitude and edge they came with tonight and the intensity. If we can keep doing that, we'll be just fine."
C-G sophomore Jen Pilut’s basket made it a two-point game, 7-5, three minutes into the game. But the Trojans went scoreless the ensuing four minutes, which helped South built a 10-point lead. Junior Katie Barker knocked down two free throws to end C-G’s scoring drought.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, their scoring issues carried over into the second quarter. C-G again went four minutes without scoring, this time a Barker 3-pointer ending the scoreless stretch with 15 seconds left in the second quarter. However, South still led, 28-13, after Barker’s basket and carried the momentum into halftime.
Barker scored 24 of the Trojans' 40 points, and C-G had only four other players score, none of whom tallied more than six points. C-G coach Rod Saffert said the Trojans didn't have a great week of practice, which seemed to carry over against South.
"We didn't really have a whole lot of energy," Saffert said. "[South] has three girls who score. We struggled at times. I tried my best to get my scorer [Barker] open in the second half, and I thought we did. We just didn't have enough people who could score."