It was a tale of two halves Sunday for the Cary-Grove Trojans (9-15,7-6) as their fantastic start to the game, aided by a balanced offense and a lockdown defense, was quickly undone by numerous turnovers and a cold shooting performance in the second half.
Credit McHenry (19-9,8-4) for playing resilient and taking advantage of their opportunities, but the Trojans constantly shooting themselves in the foot sure helped, too.
The first quarter was all Trojans as they picked apart the Warriors inside and out, scoring in the paint and behind the arc with ease. On the ropes and facing a 15-8 deficit, McHenry was able to hit a corner three-pointer at the buzzer to cut it to 15-11.
Cary-Grove wasted no time starting off the second quarter strong and managed to stretch the lead to 29-19, thanks to back-to-back Emily Lukowski three-pointers.
Then came the turnover bug, with McHenry intercepting the Trojans’ passes on numerous occasions to jumpstart their offense.
“We just tend to make unforced errors at the worst times,” Coach Rod Saffert said after the game. “There is always an open girl. We need to find her.”
By the end of the second quarter, thanks to a slew of three-pointers and steals by McHenry, the Trojans’ lead was cut to five with the score at 33-28.
Both teams started the second half off extremely well, with the lead going back and forth. It wasn’t until a 5-0 run to end the third quarter, capped off by another Warriors buzzer-beater that silenced the crowd, that the Trojans began to feel like the game was in danger of slipping out of their hands.
The Trojans had a second wind to begin the fourth quarter, scoring two quick baskets to tie the game 50-50. It looked like another nail-biter was in store. Unfortunately, though, that turned out to be the Trojans’ last hurrah, as they proceed to go on a 5:40 scoring drought. Meanwhile, the Warriors went on a 16-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“Once the third quarter happened, we had dug a hole too deep to climb out of,” Coach Saffert said. “We need more consistent play on both ends of the court.”
Even though this game stung, the Trojans have no time to get down on themselves. They played Hampshire on the road the following evening before they wrap up the regular season next week with Jacobs and Prairie Ridge. Regionals start February 12th.