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Women's basketball: Skyhawks have answer for coveted recruit

Sauk Valley's Jordan Gidding's looks to pass while being guarded by Kennedy-King's Fredericka Conner during Saturday's game in Dixon. Sauk won 82-51.
Sauk Valley's Jordan Gidding's looks to pass while being guarded by Kennedy-King's Fredericka Conner during Saturday's game in Dixon. Sauk won 82-51.

DIXON – The Sauk Valley Skyhawks women's basketball team continued to roll through their season, as they handily defeated Kennedy-King 82-51 Saturday night. 

There was plenty of hype surrounding Kennedy-King's freshman Antania Hayes, who had many D-1 offers coming out of high school. 

"She's a big time Division I player," said Sauk Coach Jed Johnson. "We knew coming in that we had to key on her. I don't know what she ended up with, but the game plan coming in was definitely to key on her and know where she is at all times."

Thankfully for the Skyhawks (11-2), they had more than enough firepower to answer Hayes. The onlsaught was led by freshman Jordan Giddings, who made her first three shots. Through 10 minutes of the game, Giddings had 13 points, which included a 3-pointer from the corner. This helped Sauk jump out to a 22-5 lead at the 11:10 mark of the first half. 

"Today, I came in a little early," said Giddings, "and was shooting around with Sarah [Matson]. I was making everything, and I was hoping that it would carry over to the game. Thankfully it did, and I was on tonight."

Not only was the offense impressive for the Skyhawks, but so was their solid defense. It took the Statesmen almost 12 minutes to reach double digits on the scoreboard. The same trend continued as Sauk only allowed them to reach 19 points at half. 

"Defensively, we have been working on things over break," Johnson said. "Thursday night we held Illinois Valley to under 40-points. So, defensively we've been doing a good job, and again tonight we start with a lot of pressure, and got on them defensively which created some easy baskets for us."

Hayes did her part for Kennedy-King, as she scored 14 of its 19 points in the first. Giddings did her part for the Skyhawks offensively, and topped Hayes with 18 first-half points.

"I guess she [Hayes] can dunk it," Giddings said. "She was talking to one of our players out there before the game, and I was thinking 'oh my gosh that's nuts.' We knew that she was the one we had to beat today, and we focused on her. They also had a couple of shooters, so we just kept our eye on those three."

With a 22-point difference coming out of the locker room, the game took on a peculiar road for the circumstance. The intensity picked up, as Kennedy-King started getting secondary scoring. 

An answer was found by Sauk for every bucket Kennedy scored, and Sauk continued to extend its lead. 

A frustrated Statesmen squad became more and more physical, which included after the whistle had blown. 

The epitome of it all came out at the 2:18 mark of the second half, when Keneddy-King sophomore Kendra Wilson was assessed a double technical. This resulted in her getting thrown out, as well as Skyhawk sophomore Sheldeen Joseph making the four ensuing free throws.

This put salt in the wound for Kennedy, as Sauk had already secured the victory, but continued to extend the lead.  

"The group we have doesn't worry about that kind of stuff," said Johnson. "We don't get into any of the trash talk or anything of that nature. I don't know exactly what was going on over there, or what was being said, but we did a good job of focusing on the game and not worrying about other stuff."

Star of the game: Jordan Giddings, Sauk, 22 points, 7 rebounds 

Key performers: Antania Hayes, Kennedy-King, 26 points, 20 rebounds; Morgan Dean, Sauk, 16 points, 6 rebounds

Up next: Sauk Valley at Black Hawk, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

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