HAMPSHIRE – Down 12 with only one field goal in the first six and half minutes against Montini, Kylie Feuerbach and the Sycamore girls basketball team said they didn't panic.
"We took it personal," Feuerbach said. "We knew we just had to keep pushing it. We knew it was OK. It was the beginning of the game. We had the whole rest of the game to go. And we did, we got back in the game and we just let loose at the end."
The Spartans clawed back and led as late as the fourth quarter before falling to the Broncos, 61-55, in the championship game of the Class 3A Hampshire Sectional on Thursday.
Sycamore (27-7) trailed 15-3 but took the lead at halftime. The last lead of the game for the Spartans came with 4:56 left when Feuerbach hit a pair of free throws to put them ahead, 47-46.
But the Broncos (31-4) scored the next six and never trailed again.
"We walk out of here keeping our heads up," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. "I can't say how proud I am of the girls. We had our hearts set on being down there for the state finals, and we gave everything we could til the very end. There's no quit in anyone."
The game put an end to the Sycamore career of Kylie Feuerbach, who will play for Iowa State next year. She scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and threw in five steals and a block.
"It's been fun the past four years for sure," Feuerbach said. "It's not the way I want it to end. We could have definitely one. It's a hard pill to swallow. We just need to keep – they need to keep pushing it. I have to go to Iowa State which I'm really excited about. But it was a tough pill to swallow for sure because we were up a lot of the game and we could have carried that out."
Montini coach Jason Nichols said off the top of his head Feuerbach is one of the three best players in the state.
"That kid is a load. She's awesome. She's classy," Nichols said. "She's a good kid. And Sycamore's tough."
Wickness said it was a fitting end to Feuerbach's career with the Spartans.
"She kept us in it and hit some big shots," Wickness said. "Her defense was unbelievable. All the things we talked about with her being able to cover so much space, or coming up with big plays, that was tonight. When you have a kid for four years you develop a little bit of a bond with them. I know I'm going to miss the heck of her and I hope she feels the same way about me, hopefully."
He then immediately went over to hug Feuerbach, and the two hugged while Feuerbach said thank you while crying.
By the numbers: Feuerbach's 23 points, eight rebounds and five steals were all game highs. Evyn Carrier and Faith Feuerbach had eight points each for the Spartans. Taris Thornton led the Broncos with 15, Sophie Sullivan had 12 and Afton Tatiana Thomas added 10. Taylor Charles had 13 points and eight rebounds to go with three steals, while Sullivan also had eight boards and three steals.
Beyond the stats: The Sycamore surge in the first half coincided with 6-foot-3 freshman Carrier entering the game. She got the start at the beginning of the second half.
They said it: "I thought she gave us a little bit of rim protection tonight," Wickness said. "There were times when their bigs – (Thornton) played a heck of a game. She finished like crazy in the third quarter. And they have a lot of good post players. But I thought Evyn did a good job of keeping them on their toes."
Up next: Montini faces Grayslake Central in the Class 3A Elgin Community College Supers-Sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday.