YCAMORE – Sycamore smothered visiting Yorkville on Friday, 51-41, as one first-half play proved a fitting descriptor of the first three quarters of the game.
With her team leading by 22 points halfway through the second quarter, the Spartans’ Kylie Feuerbach blocked a shot with both hands, turning her hands downward like a volleyball player blocking the ball at the net. She collected the loose ball, bounded down the court with a few quick dribbles, pulled up to shoot from just beyond the free-throw line and sank the shot.
“With someone like Kylie Feuerbach, it’s like they’re playing six-on-five,” Yorkville coach Kim Wensits said. “I mean, the way she can cover the floor with her length, it’s very effective. We knew it was coming, problem was, we had two games. We had a game last night and a game Wednesday.”
With the win, Sycamore finished undefeated at home for the second straight season.
Yorkville (10-20, 4-9 Northern Illinois Big 12) scored the final four points of the first half, with both Lily Guerra and Olivia Ross hitting baskets in the final two minutes of the half. Those were two of the cleanest looks the Foxes had in the first half against the pressure from Sycamore (23-7, 12-1).
Feuerbach led Sycamore with 15 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter, adding five rebounds, six steals, two assists and two blocks.
Her length, and that of freshmen Ella Shipley and Faith Feuerbach, kept Yorkville flustered.
“They have the drive, and they want to get stats,” Spartans senior forward Maria Wright said. “It’s fun to see when they’re giving it their all, and you see them block shots or get steals, and it’s really fun playing with them.”
Shipley was only one of the Spartans to benefit from the hot defensive start, and she ignited Sycamore’s fast start. Her quick steal, spin and layup marked the start of a 10-0 run to open the game for the Spartans.
“They’re both just competitors,” Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. “That’s really part of the big reason why they were with us in the first place right from the get-go as freshmen. They compete. They hate losing, and they like to get after it. It makes our practices more competitive. As they’ve gone through, they’ve both been extremely coachable.”
On a night when the Spartans held the Foxes to 3-of-17 shooting in the first half, Wright saw areas that needed improvement.
“We have stuff we can work on depending on the game,” Wright said. “Yesterday against DeKalb, our defense was really good. But today you could see that sometimes they were getting out of our traps, and we aren’t rotating quick enough.”
Yorkville was able to get to the free-throw line consistently in the fourth quarter, making eight free throws and outscoring the Spartans, 25-10, in the final period.
The Spartans employed a half-court trapping defense, causing a handful of early turnovers that allowed Sycamore to get out in transition.
By the numbers: Faith Reynolds scored 10 points, with eight coming in the second half. Wright and Faith Feuerbach each scored eight points. Faith Feuerbach and Shipley both made two blocks. Shipley had six points and two steals. Lexi Meyer’s nine points led the Foxes. Halle Jones scored seven, while Lily Guerra, Claudia Grunwald and Olivia Ross each scored six.
They said it: “Now that we’re at the end of their freshman year, they’re not freshmen anymore. You see them start to play with a lot more confidence, and I think the speed of the game, they’ve finally caught up to it, and they’re adjusted pretty well,” Wickness said about Faith Feuerbach, Shipley and JaKiya Thompson.
Up next: Sycamore will suit up Tuesday at Stillman Valley High School against the winner of Stillman Valley and Freeport in the Class 3A Stillman Valley Regional.