GENOA – An uncharacteristic first quarter snowballed into a half and then quickly into 24 minutes.
By the time the Sycamore girls basketball team finally started getting some shots to fall in the fourth, Glenbard South was well on the way to a 41-21 win and a Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Sectional championship Thursday.
The Raiders (28-3) held Sycamore sophomore Kylie Feuerbach well below her 17.4 scoring average. She shot only 1 of 14 from the floor and scored two points for the Spartans (25-6).
"She was a little off tonight, and that's a testament to their team," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. "They've got some size, they've got some athleticism. They obviously had a game plan to limit both Kate [Majerus] and Kylie and they executed that game plan."
The job of guarding the Iowa State commit fell to senior Sarah Cohen, who said the Raiders kept pushing all game and tried to keep Feuerbach from getting easy looks at the basket.
"As a team, we just kept pushing ourselves through the game. We tried to not let her get past us," Cohen said. "But she's a really good player, and I think maybe we got into her head. We at least tried our best."
In the first half, she didn't get any looks really – she attempted one shot, missing it. She got to the line only once, missing both free throws.
The Raiders scored only 14 seconds into the game and never trailed, scoring the first seven. The Spartans were scoreless after one and trailed, 19-9, after three quarters.
"When you score zero points in a quarter, that's 8 minutes of the game that's gone by and you have nothing to show for it," Wickness said. "We had some chances early on to get momentum on out side. We're a team that when we've lost this year it's been because of bad shooting and we haven't gotten into our rhythm offensively."
Glenbard South coach Morgan Kasperek said Cohen was the MVP of the game for the Raiders – and not for her seven-point offensive performance.
"Sarah gets into people's heads. She does a really nice job," Kasperek said. "You feel like you should be open and she's just – everywhere you go, she's there. She's a phenomenal defender. Defense was the key tonight. I don't even know who scored for us, it was all about defense tonight. Sarah might not have put up a lot of points, but her defense meant more to us than anything."
Sycamore ended up taking six more shots than the Raiders, but shot only 21 percent. The Raiders shot 44 percent and were 9 of 14 from the floor in the second half.
In the first quarter, not only did Feuerbach not attempt a shot, but sharpshooter Majerus attempted two, both layups that were blocked. She finished with a team-high eight, going 2 for 8 from long range.
"In a big game like this, you have to knock down shots. They did, and we didn't," Majerus said. "I give full credit to them. They're defense locked down our one and two players and they did exactly what they needed to do to get to the win. We couldn't come back from it."
By the numbers: Faith Klemm was the second-leading scorer for Sycamore with five points. Jacki Rapp and Feuerbach each had six points for the Spartans. Maggie Bair had 15 points and four blocks to lead the Raiders and added eight rebounds. Ally Daca had a game-best nine rebounds.
Beyond the stats: Sycamore trailed, 12-7, at halftime, but a 13-2 run that reached into the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
They said it: "Over the past four years, my teammates and my coaches have pushed me and put me in the best spot possible," the senior Majerus said. "I'm eternally grateful for them. I said to one of my other teammates who's moving on to play basketball. This is just the beginning of the next four years or our life. It's a tough end, but a new fresh beginning."
Up next: The Raiders will take on Carmel, a 29-23 winner against St. Viator at the Class 3A Woodstock North Sectional championship. They'll meet at the Class 3A Burlington Central Super-Sectional at 7 p.m. Monday.