McHENRY – McHenry jumped out to a 16-point lead against Crystal Lake South after the first quarter and, after being outscored by 14 over the next eight minutes, the Warriors could have went into a second-half slumber.
But that didn’t happen.
“The one thing that’s been constant with them is they continue to play hard,” Warriors coach Rob Niemic said. “They practice hard and they know I’m going to coach hard. None of them have ever batted an eye.
“I told them, ‘I’m sweating like you guys,’ because every possession they played like it mattered. Playing and coaching like that is so much more fun.”
McHenry, outside of a sluggish second quarter, had the Gators’ number throughout the teams’ Fox Valley Conference game Tuesday. The Warriors hit 9-of-24 shots from behind the 3-point line and grabbed their first conference win of the season by defeating South, 51-33.
Junior guard Emerson Gasmann led McHenry (8-12, 1-6 FVC) with 13 points and three 3s. She was joined by teammates Lynette Alsot (11 points, seven rebounds) and Maddi Friedle (11 points, three 3s) in double figures.
Gasmann scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the first quarter, hitting two 3s and a pair of free throws.
Niemic was unable to be at practice Monday because of meetings, so assistants Megan Edwards and Alex Thompson took over. McHenry came out on fire Tuesday, knocking down 6 of its first 11 shots, including 4-of-7 3s, to take a 19-3 lead after the first quarter.
“We’ve been working very hard for it, and I feel like it’s well deserved,” Gasmann said of getting their first FVC win of the season. “That first quarter gave us a lot of momentum. We work on our shooting a ton, so it always feels good to see them go in.
“I feel like we moved the ball really well and we kept shooting, no matter what. We were closing down on defense. We all just worked together as a team.”
After a one-sided first quarter, South (3-13, 1-5) stormed back with a strong second and outscored the Warriors, 18-4.
Gators junior guard Kree Nunnally scored seven of her game-high 18 points in the second quarter. Her second 3 of the first half cut McHenry’s advantage to 22-21 with 1:00 remaining in the second quarter.
South, however, would not get any closer. The Gators never held a lead.
“The second [quarter] we found our groove and they played a lot tougher,” South coach Mark Mucha said. “They relaxed a little bit and let the game come to them. They picked up the intensity on defense but then lost it again in the third quarter.
“In the end, they were a little bit tougher than we were.”
Alyssa Franklin recorded four points and 10 rebounds for McHenry. Ana Gerstung had five points and a 3, Peyton Stinger had four points and a 3 and Reese Kominoski made the team’s ninth 3 in the third quarter.
Carly Gorman had four points for South and Mackenzie Resch added a 3.
Niemic was proud of his team for recovering after a difficult second quarter in which the Warriors made only one shot and saw their once 16-point lead lead shrink to two at half.
“We had a great first quarter and a horrible second quarter,” Niemic said. “Two or three weeks, maybe a month ago, we probably would have lost that game. We needed that [to win]. It’s been many years since we didn’t have a conference win [going into] January.
“We’re excited that we played really well together on both ends and the kids got to see their work reap some success. That’s what I’m happy for.”