GRAYSLAKE – Scoring nine points in the first four minutes of a tough divisional road game against Grayslake North was a good sign for the Crystal Lake Central girls basketball team.
The Tigers couldn't sustain their quick start, however. Despite holding a seven-point lead, they went scoreless the next six minutes until Central junior forward Morgan Wozniak scored with 6:14 remaining in the second quarter.
By that point, the Knights' trapping defense forced multiple turnovers to help erase the Tigers' lead and put them in control. Grayslake North maintained a double-digit lead most of the second half en route to a 45-36 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division win.
"We did a terrible job of reading screens like we talked about in practice and didn't adjust," Central coach Paul Lichtenheld said. "Their intensity was the same, but their execution changed. We didn't handle it well."
Central (6-7, 1-2 FVC Fox) was able to limit the Knights' second-chance opportunities early in the game by rebounding and not turning over the ball. But as the game progressed, Grayslake North's trapping defense caused plenty of problems when the Tigers tried to run their offense, finishing with 20 turnovers. Tigers senior guard Kelsey Schmitt scored a team-high 12 points while senior forward Shannon Ellman added 10 points.
Grayslake North (5-5, 2-1) went on a 16-2 run spanning the second and third quarters to take an 18-11 lead. Knights senior guard Kendall Detweiler began hurting Central's defense in the second quarter when she scored 12 of her game-high 20 points, including two 3-pointers. Detweiler's layup off a steal with 6:17 left in the game gave the Knights their biggest lead of the game, 39-22. The basket also gave Detweiler 1,000 career points.
"I knew [the milestone] was there so I kept trying to not think about it," said Detweiler, who is the Knights' all-time leading scorer. "I knew I needed to play the game and not worry about individual points."
Although they trailed by 17 in the fourth, the Tigers kept battling back against the Knights. Central cut the deficit to 43-36 with 53 seconds remaining and had an opportunity to keep chipping away after Grayslake North turned over the ball on an inbounds play. But an offensive foul on Central gave the ball right back to the Knights who were able to extend their lead on a pair of Detweiler free throws and run out the clock.
"Just our momentum, we were getting it back in the third quarter and we talked about at halftime coming back strong and cutting their lead," Schmitt said. "It was motivation."