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Kaneland trips up Burlington Central in OT
By Craig Brueske | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/5/2013 9:37 PM

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Less than 24 hours after attempting just 2 free throws in a loss to Yorkville, Kaneland’s girls basketball team made a concerted effort to get to the free-throw line Saturday evening.

What a difference a day makes.

The Knights (9-5) feasted at the charity stripe, making 31 of a season-high 40 attempts, including 8 of 11 in the 4-minute overtime session, during their 56-53 nonconference victory over Burlington Central (14-3) on Pack the Place night in Maple Park.

“We had a tough loss last night where we only got two free-throw attempts,” said Knights coach Ernie Colombe. “We’re not the biggest team around so we’ve got to be aggressive on offense. One of the ways we measure that is how many times we go to the free-throw line. Going to it 39 times (actually 40) was a little change from last night.”

Burlington Central, which had its 5-game winning streak snapped, grabbed its last lead of the night at 51-50 on Kayla Ross’ driving layup with 2:17 remaining in overtime.

After each team committed turnovers, the Knights took the lead for good at 52-51 on Allyson O’Herron’s short baseline jumper with 1:27 left.

Fourteen seconds later, senior guard Sarah Grams (10 points) converted a pair of free throws to up Kaneland’s lead to 54-51.

Freshman Shelby Holt’s layup with 45 seconds left pulled the Rockets back within a point at 54-53 but the Knights were able to take some time off the clock before Grams was sent back to the foul line with 5.8 seconds remaining.

Grams made her fifth and sixth free throws of the overtime, as the Knights took a 56-53 lead. Holt, who had 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Rockets.

“We needed to come out and play well,” said Colombe. “We’ve been struggling a little bit on offense. We really stressed that we wanted to be aggressive and the players responded tonight.”

Seniors Ashley Prost and Emma Bradford tallied 12 points apiece for the Knights, while another senior, O’Herron, added 8 points.

“The seniors wanted to step up and play well on Pack the Place (night),” said Colombe. “We kind of relied on them today.”

The teams combined for 71 free-throw attempts and 56 made free throws on a night where 4 players fouled out.

“It was exciting,” said Prost, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter. “That was our goal tonight because we haven’t been scoring at the free-throw line.”

Kaneland, which led 23-18 at halftime, scored the first 5 points of the third quarter to take its biggest lead of the game, 28-18.

Burlington Central, which received its first 18 points of the game from freshmen Samantha Pryor, Rebecca Gerke, Ross, and Holt, closed out the third quarter with a 12-4 run to cut its deficit to 32-30.

Trailing 42-37 with 3:08 remaining, the Rockets drew even at 42-42 on a pair of free throws by Holt with 1:22 left.

Kaneland once again took a 2-point lead on a pair of free throws by Bradford with 27 seconds left, but Rockets junior Alison Colby calmly sank 2 foul shots of her own with 7.4 seconds remaining to force overtime.

“It was a good game to be in,” said Rockets coach Mark Smith. “I thought the second half was phenomenal — our comeback and the way we played. Now we’ve got to learn how to win those games.”

The teams could meet again come tournament time.

“We know we’re in the same regional (at Burlington Central) with them,” said Colombe. “They’ve been playing well.”