McHENRY — McHenry girls basketball coach Scott Morris wanted to get all of his seniors on the floor to start the game for senior night against visiting Dundee-Crown, including Sawyer Lay.
Lay tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in a Feb. 6 loss to Crystal Lake South and took the court for the final time this season before she was taken out after the opening tip.
"We were sad Sawyer had a blown out knee," Morris said. "I just thought it would be a nice way to get her into senior night and get her some deserved recognition."
The Chargers let the Warriors win the tip, allowing Morris to call a timeout to take Lay out of the game. But that was the only time D-C let up as it went on to win, 55-50, in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play.
The inside game was owned by the Chargers as freshman Allison Michalski dominated the paint, scoring 10 of her game-high, and career-high, 21 points in the first quarter. McHenry had no answer for Michalski whose basket cuts and ability to take advantage of second-chance points helped stake D-C to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter.
"We practiced what we did in the game and it worked out for us," Michalski said. "It boosts my confidence a lot especially going into the playoffs next week."
While the Chargers (8-21 overall, 3-9 FVC Valley) held a slim lead after the first, they couldn't put away a motivated McHenry team on its senior night.
The Warriors (9-18, 1-10) chipped away in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 23-19 before finally grabbing its first lead late in the third.
Alex Martens connected on a pair of free-throws to put the Warriors up 31-30, their first lead since early in the first. But it was short lived as Chargers guard Kagan Faulkner made two foul shots on the next possesion, giving the Chargers a 32-31 lead.
It was one they wouldn't give back as Michalski took over again. She finished with seven points in the third.
"Michalski did a great job stepping up and she dictated our inside presence," Chargers coach Sarah Miller said.
Michalski presence softened up an otherwise tough McHenry zone defense and allowed the shooters some space on the outside.
D-C guard Melissa Barker, who didn't attempt a shot in the first half, took advantage of the extra defensive attention given to Michalski, and hit three 3-pointers in the second half, each one more devastating to the Warriors than the last.
"The kids played hard but we just couldn't get our shots to fall," Morris said. "The [Chargers] hit some big ones and we had a few chances to take the lead but a couple were short and more were in-and-out."
McHenry finishes its regular season on Friday against Woodstock North while the Chargers finish Friday at Woodstock.