GIRLS BASKETBALL: Kankakee outclasses Watseka in clash of local titans
PEOTONE — For the second time in as many days, Kankakee faced stiff early competition from the cream of the local Class 2A crop at the Blue Devil Holiday Classic in Peotone.
And for the second time in as many days, the Kays used spurts of impenetrable defense and efficient offense to pull away, this time against Watseka by a 73-49 score.
The Kays improved to 18-0 on the season and 2-0 in tournament play. The loss dropped the Warriors to 12-2 and 1-1 in the tournament.
“I don’t think this was a bad game for us; we probably got better from it,” Warriors coach Barry Bauer said. “A lot of times you get judged by the final score, but it isn’t necessarily what happened on the court.”
Watseka established a mythodical-yet-consistent pace in the first quarter, slowing down the speedy Kays into more of a half-court game. The result was a 7-7 affair, despite 10 Warriors turnovers.
″(The Warriors) are disciplined; they move the ball around well and have a nice inside game,” Kays coach John Maniatis said. “Their guards did a nice job controlling the tempo early on.”
But the Kays countered in the second with a ferocious bench effort, led by senior Keshauna Pitts.
With the game tied at 12, Pitts scored, notched a steal, and scored again, drawing a foul in the process, giving herself five points in mere seconds, which sparked a 9-0 Kays run.
″(The team) feeds off my energy; when I say, “Go,” we go,” Pitts said. “The game was tied, I (scored) and got that and-one, and that really turned us up.”
And once the Kays started going, they couldn’t be stopped, more-than-doubling the Warriors in the third quarter by a 21-10 margin to open the game up to 46-26 by the time the fourth quarter started.
Once Pitts and fellow guards Avery Jackson and Taylor Albertie were able to quicken the pace defensively, Ambranette Storr stood as the main beneficiary on the offensive end.
She finished the day with a game-high 24 points to go along with eight rebounds (seven offensive), two assists and two steals.
Maniatis said Thursday’s effort exemplified why Storr is regarded as an ESPN Super-60 national recruit as a junior.
“There’s a reason she’s a top 60 player in the country; it’s a privilege to witness those skills on display,” Maniatis said. “As her comfort level continues to rise, I can only see her doing greater things.”
After the 10-turnover first quarter, the Warriors only turned it over 11 more times the final three quarters. Bauer said he expected some turnover issues against a bigger and faster Kays team.
“We knew we were going to turn it over a couple times, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you pick your poison,” Bauer said. “I thought our competitiveness was good, I just told the girls I didn’t think our toughness was always where we needed to be, but we’re getting better with that.”
Pitts finished second on the Kays with 13 points and added three assists. Imani Williams had eight points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
Tabetha Jones had eight points, 10 rebounds, three assists, five steals and three blocks while Jackson also tallied eight points.
Mallory Drake led the Warriors with 15 points, four rebounds, an assist and three blocks. Kennedy Bauer posted a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
Natalie Schroeder had 12 points and four rebounds. Magan Harris had six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Both teams conclude pool play on Friday. The Warriors take on Beecher at 9 a.m., while Kankakee and Joliet West follow at 10:30 a.m.