CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Central girls basketball team had done a good job bottling up Grayslake North’s all-time leading scorer, Kendall Detweiler, for most of the game.
In a must-win game for both teams to stay in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title chase, the Tigers put themselves in position to pick up the key win. Trailing by three through three quarters, Central came back to take a one-point lead with 2 minutes remaining. But after the Knights tied it with a free throw, neither team could capitalize, forcing overtime.
Grayslake North scored the first basket of overtime, and although Central briefly took the lead on Kelsey Schmitt’s 3-pointer, the Knights built a six-point lead and held on for the 58-56 FVC Fox overtime win.
Each team had a chance to take the lead in the final 36 seconds of regulation. Grayslake North missed a pair of free throws, and Central’s final shot at the buzzer missed. Central coach Paul Lichtenheld said he thought his team put together one of its best offensive performances of the season, but he wasn’t settling for a good effort.
“We came out well in overtime, we just had those couple of turnovers that hurt us,” Lichtenheld said. “ ... We did a lot of things well, but at this point in the season there’s no moral victories.”
Central and Grayslake North (15-8, 7-1 FVC Fox) traded leads to start the game, though the Knights built a five-point lead after the Tigers went nearly three minutes without scoring. Central chipped away at Grayslake North’s lead at the free-throw line.
Central (11-10, 5-3) was in the bonus by the end of the first quarter and spent the final 6:34 of the second quarter in the double bonus. Evelyn Youel’s putback with one-tenth of a second left gave Central a 15-13 lead through the first quarter.
Youel finished with a game-high 20 points and helped the Tigers outrebound the Knights, 53-39.
“I think we have to keep our heads high,” Youel said. “We know they’re a great team, and I think the way we played tonight shows we can play with anyone on any given night. We just keep moving on to the next game now against Grayslake Central.”
Both teams combined to get called for 28 fouls in the first half leading to 39 total free-throw attempts. The Tigers wasted an opportunity to add to their lead, going 9 for 19 at the line in the first half. Meanwhile, the Knights went 15 for 20 at the line, though they trailed Central at halftime, 28-26.
Grayslake North managed to score only one field goal in the second quarter, but its performance at the line kept the Knights in the game. Foul trouble throughout the game forced both teams to play zone defense most of the night.
The Knights finally switched back to man-to-man defense with about 2 minutes left in the game. Detweiler finished with a 17 points, doing most of her damage at the free-throw line, where she went 9 for 11, while Maggie Fish led the Knights with 19 points.
“Fish was outstanding,” Grayslake North coach Nate Flannery said. “Usually when we win tight games, it’s her stepping up. ... It’s just other kids stepping up and at this point of the year we’re getting that consistently now.”