Tori Prellberg's 16 points not enough to jump-start Hinckley-Big Rock
HINCKLEY – Earlville-Leland may not have had all the answers, but it had enough to extend its second half lead to a sizable margin on the way to its first conference win of the season, 52-34, over Hinckley-Big Rock.
When the Royals’ offense shrugged off early offensive struggles with 14 points in the third quarter, Earlville-Leland (6-1, 1-1 Little Ten) seemed to have responses of its own on offense.
They included five points from each Julia Niles, Alex Koontz and Elizabeth Browder in the third quarter.
[Photos by Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media]
“That wasn’t an easy win by any means,” Earlville-Leland coach Wayne Koontz said. “I think I like to call that a slow death. That team would not die at all.”
Niles muscled in a bucket and sank the accompanying free throw after the foul in the final seconds of the third quarter, and Earlville-Leland owned a 41-27 lead heading into the fourth.
Earlville-Leland’s size, especially its length, proved to be quite the advantage as the Raiders deterred drives to the lane by the Royals. They did so early with a 2-3 zone defense and at other times with a man-to-man defensive look.
Hinckley Big-Rock (1-6, 0-1 Little Ten) found most of its offensive success in the first half off drives and kicks for outside shots. The Royals knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, but none in the second.
Koontz, whose length was as much as a factor as her scoring ability in the first half, scored seven points in each half for 14 total points.
“I knew we had a size advantage,” Koontz said. “I was hoping eventually we would be able to utilize that size advantage, and a couple outside shots kind of opened up the inside for us, and things opened up a little more.”
With the Royals struggling to score in the second quarter, they tried to up the pace of the game.
“We try to push the tempo to make them run,” Hinckley-Big Rock coach Doug Brewington said. “[Earlville-Leland has] a team here that is long and athletic. That’s trouble for us.”
The Raiders held the Royals scoreless for nearly four minutes in the first quarter before Tori Prellberg knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. She went on to score a game-high and personal season-high 16 points.
Tori Prellberg knocked down two 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Allison Ryan made another 3 and assisted on one of Prellberg’s made buckets in the first quarter.
“We have three or four girls that can score on any given night, and tonight, we felt that was our best matchup with Tori taking over the show,” Brewington said.
By the numbers: Hinckley-Big Rock’s 14-point third quarter, its highest of the game, was still outdone by Earlville-Leland with 18 points. Earlville-Leland outscored Hinckley-Big Rock, 14-4, in the second quarter. Allison Ryan added eight points for the Royals. Elizabeth Browder hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points, and Niles added nine points.
Beyond the stats: Earlville-Leland’s switch to man-to-man defense after Hinckley-Big Rock knocked down three shots from beyond the arc in the first quarter. Brewington called that move "a good adjustment on his part," referring to Raiders coach Wayne Koontz.
They said it: “Normally, we have a continuity offense, and they sagged and supported on all our cuts, and being that they were so tall in the paint, normally, if someone sags and supports you can get a mismatch, but everybody they had was too much height for us,” Royals coach Doug Brewington said.
Up next: Hinckley-Big Rock plays at Alden-Hebron on Thursday.