CRYSTAL LAKE – Maddie Haslow played on a two-win Crystal Lake Central girls basketball team her freshman year and saw the Tigers improve from zero conference wins in to seven last season.
The four-year guard is hoping this season is Central's best yet.
"Past years haven't been so great, but we've been turning things around and the next few years are going to be the payout," Haslow said. "It's looking really good, and I'm just hoping it continues this way, because it's a good feeling for all of us."
The good feelings continued Tuesday for the Tigers with a 48-35 road win over crosstown rival Prairie Ridge in the teams' Fox Valley Conference game.
Central (5-1, 2-0 FVC) trailed Prairie Ridge, 29-28, in the fourth quarter, but took control over the game's last eight minutes, outscoring the Wolves, 20-6. The Wolves attempted only five shots in the quarter, finishing with more turnovers during that span.
Winning the second halves of games has been a big plus for Central this year, third-year Central coach Derek Crabill said. That theme continued again versus the Wolves (3-5, 0-3).
"We've won in the second half and fourth quarter because of turnovers or run-out layups," Crabill said. "One of the things we felt really good about this win was that we had to execute game plan to get it done. It wasn't just getting steals and a bunch of layups.
"We've been struggling in the half court. We had been preaching to pound it inside all week. Once we started running our offense, we started having success. We spread the floor a bit. We have some athletes that can penetrate the lane, and we had a couple of acrobatic shots go in."
The first of those acrobatic field goals by Central came from Lily Penza, who threw in a wild, reverse layup to give the Tigers a 32-30 lead with 6:10 remaining. Penza's basket was part of a 14-0 run by the Tigers.
The Tigers came up with back-to-back steals and layups from Emma Fleming (nine points) and Cori Hamill (12 points, eight steals) with less than three minutes left. Haslow then hit the team's one 3-pointer, assisted by Megan Wozniak, to give Central a 46-30 lead with 1:45 left.
Central forced 31 turnovers, including 20 in the second half.
Nora Ryan had seven points for Central, and Penza tossed in six, all in the second half.
"I'm pumped," Hamill said. "This is a really unique group of girls, because we're all really unique personality wise and diverse in our positions. We can all move around (on the court), which is really special, because you can mix and match."
Sam Gablenz led the Wolves with nine points, six rebounds and four assists, Karsen Karlblom finished with eight points and five rebounds, and Karly Statter added six points and six rebounds.
"We worked on a variety of things over the past two days, I thought would put us in a better position to finish," Wolves first-year coach Tim Taege said. "We didn't handle the pressure well, and we didn't execute and find ways to take care of the basketball."
STAR OF THE GAME
Cori Hamill, Crystal Lake Central, sr., G
Hamill scored 12 points and collected eight steals and two assists. She was 6-of-13 shooting.
20: Central outscored Prairie Ridge, 20-6, in the fourth quarter.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
Central's only 3-pointer came from Maddie Haslow (game-high 13 points) with 1:45 remaining.