ROCK FALLS – Rock Falls found another Abi who could fill it up, but it wasn’t quite enough to hand the Dixon girls basketball team its first defeat.
The Duchesses lived at the free-throw line the last 2 minutes, and were able to pull away for a 51-46 win on Friday night in Tabor Gymnasium. It was the second win there for Dixon, with the first coming in the Sauk Valley Shootout on Nov. 20.
It was in that game Rockets senior guard Abbee Sigel went down with an injury to her right knee. As it turned out, she suffered a torn ACL and meniscus and a bone bruise, and is lost for the season. Surgery is planned once the swelling goes down.
In Sigel’s stead, freshman guard Abigail Peyton has seen increased playing time, and she tossed in a season-high 16 points to keep Rock Falls (5-3, 0-1 Big Northern) afloat.
“Abbee’s basically my sister,” Peyton said, “and taking her place kind of is a big shoe to fill, but I enjoy it.”
Peyton hit two free throws at the 3:18 mark, then drained a 3-pointer with 2:18 to play to draw the Rockets into a 43-43 tie.
Dixon (7-0, 1-0), however, made all of the plays the rest of the way. The Duchesses went 8-for-10 from the line in the last 2 minutes, and defensively, forced the Rockets into taking some tough shots and a couple of untimely turnovers. Rock Falls’ Molly Buck hit a 3 with 5 seconds to play, but Dixon was able to simply let the remaining time tick off the clock.
“I knew we had to be strong with the ball,” Dixon’s Britney Pitzer said, “and we knew they were going to come at us for fouls. Down the stretch, we have to make our free throws, and obviously we did that to pull away.”
Pitzer hit all nine of her free-throw attempts and finished with 16 points to lead Dixon, which connected on 23 of 29 from the line as a team. Caylyn Kimmel chipped in 10 points, including a huge 3-pointer at the 4:37 mark of the fourth quarter after Rock Falls had seized a 38-34 lead.
“Our girls did what they needed to do, and I’m proud of them,” Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. “They came and did everything that we could have hoped for, everything that we asked, and executed enough to get it done.”
Ravlin also had kind words for a Rock Falls team adjusting to life without its best player.
“I just want to say kudos to Eric Wolf and his girls,” Ravlin said. “I thought they came out and played a great game. To go through something what they’ve gone through, losing Abbee, and to be able to put forth that kind of effort, that was incredibly impressive to me.”
Buck finished with 10 points and five rebounds for Rock Falls, while Taylor Hoefler and Elise Moeller added nine points apiece.
Rock Falls missed 10 of 11 shots in the first quarter to dig itself an early 9-3 deficit, but found the range after that. The Rockets also made all 12 of their free throws, but were unable to hit shots at crunch time.
“The girls came out and fought,” Wolf said. “They wanted to show people that yeah, Abbee’s out, but we’re still going to compete and we’re still going to win some ballgames. We just put them on the foul line too many times. Then late in the game, we turned the ball over too much, and Dixon took advantage of it.”
Dixon 51, Rock Falls 46
Star of the game: Britney Pitzer (D), 16 points, 3 steals
Key performers: Abigail Peyton (RF), 16 points; Caylyn Kimmel (D), 10 points, 3 rebounds
Up next: Winnebago at Dixon, 7:15 p.m. Tuesday; Sycamore at Rock Falls, 7 p.m. Tuesday