ALGONQUIN – Crystal Lake South’s girls basketball players knew exactly what Gators coach Kyle McCaughn was going to address at halftime – defense.
While the offense had been fairly proficient, South felt its defense could do a lot more.
“We knew we weren’t playing as well as we could on defense,” Gators forward Lauren Del Vecchio said. “We wanted to pick up the energy and seal the game. The pressure defense really kicked it in for us.”
South forced 10 third-quarter turnovers and built its lead from five to 13 points en route to a 43-25 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory Wednesday night at the Eagles’ Nest. It is the Gators’ eighth straight victory.
“At halftime, we talked about our defense, and the positioning and heart it takes to play that,” McCaughn said. “It’s a long season and sometimes they lose track that it’s just a little more than a month left. You have little lulls. If you play with heart and discipline, that can cover your mistakes.”
South (15-4 overall, 3-1 FVC Valley) had some mistakes too, but the full-court zone pressure sparked a 13-0 run through the third and fourth quarters. Carly Nolan scored three baskets in the third quarter and Sara Mickow had two more in the fourth.
“The first half was kind of rough,” Gators forward Chanel Fanter said. “It was great to get that momentum up in the third and that kept us going.”
Mickow led South with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Fanter added 10 points and hit the Gators’ only 3-pointer in the third quarter.
Jacobs (1-19, 1-4) trailed only 26-21 at halftime with eight points from Tori Tamburrino. The Golden Eagles got a 3 from Payton Berg in the third quarter and a free throw from Tamburrino in the fourth for their only second-half points.
“Early on the kids did a nice job handling the press,” Jacobs coach Joe Benoit said. “To be down five at half to a good team like South, you feel pretty good. But scoring four points in the second half, you’re not going to beat anybody. Other than that rough patch in the third quarter, I feel good about how our team played tonight.”
Tamburrino led the Eagles with nine points and seven rebounds.
South hit 15 of 44 from the field for 34.1 percent, but the Gators worked the ball inside a lot. Only two of their 15 field goals were from outside of the lane.