MAPLE PARK – A defensive adjustment at halftime Tuesday delivered the appropriate payoff for the Kaneland girls basketball team.
For the Knights, that also meant a boost to the offense.
Struggling in the first half against Northern Illinois Big 12 East foe Morris, Kaneland used a calm locker room message and a 1-3-1 zone to sprint to a 65-32 victory.
“We started attacking more and getting confidence in our shot and confidence in each other,” Knights senior forward Brooke Harner said. “That’s what really set us off.”
Kaneland (12-7, 4-3 NI Big 12 East) limited Morris to six points after halftime, all in the third quarter.
The Redskins (4-14, 0-6) built a 26-25 lead at the break largely against man-to-man looks from Kaneland.
Beginning with a 3-pointer from senior guard Allyson O’Herron on its first possession, Kaneland shot 7 for 17 in the third quarter. Finishing with 18 steals in the game – including five apiece from O’Herron and Emma Bradford – the Knights shifted from charging at the Redskins to reading their ballhandlers’ eyes.
It ultimately added up to a 27-6 scoring edge in the third quarter.
“Today in the first half, we were kind of just complacent with sticking with them and stuff, and I think in the second half team we realized we’re a better than [how] we were playing,” said O’Herron, who had a game-high 21 points.
That last part just about summed up coach Ernie Colombe’s concise halftime message. The Knights kept executing with their defense and getting to the free-throw line, where they finished 19 for 27. Harner (13 points) led the way with a 7-for-7 effort.
Kaneland sprinted to a 56-27 road win in its first meeting with Morris on Nov. 30. Three weeks later, the Knights encountered the Redskins at the Ottawa Tournament, winning, 38-29.
After beating their longtime regional rivals for a third time Tuesday, Kaneland turned its focus to a rematch with another familiar foe. When the Knights travel to Sycamore on Friday, they’ll be just more than a month removed from beating the Spartans in overtime.
Sycamore and Kaneland also are both assigned to the 3A Burlington Central Regional along with another team the Knights defeated in OT, the regional host Rockets.
O’Herron described the team’s approach to any rematch. As usual, it begins in a familiar place.
“We go over the film of the last time that we played them and we switch up our defenses to complement whatever offense they run now,” O’Herron said. “We really focus on our defense a lot. Mostly, we just change up our defense.”