FREEPORT – Before the Sauk Valley women’s basketball team could get another shot at Highland, it had to take care of business against Malcolm X.
The Skyhawks did just that, winning a 74-59 decision on Saturday afternoon in a Region IV Tournament semifinal. Sauk Valley (13-14) swept the season series from the Hawks (10-16), winning by 17 points (74-57) at home on Jan. 4, and 26 points (67-41) on Jan. 30 in Chicago.
The third time around, despite the final 15-point margin, was less than comfortable. The Skyhawks led by just eight points (33-25) at halftime, and the Hawks did a good job of hanging around for a good chunk of the second half.
Malcolm X got to within seven points (46-39) after a steal and layup from sophomore guard JayShari Chears. The Hawks had a chance to cut into the deficit even further, but freshman guard Paris Butler mishandled a long pass that could have resulted in an easy bucket.
Sauk Valley responded with a 7-0 run the last 1½ minutes of the third quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Jaida Carson, and the Skyhawks were not threatened the rest of the way.
SVCC had a 47-42 rebounding deficit, and Carson thought that was a big factor in letting Malcolm X stay relatively close.
“They definitely were getting a lot of second shots,” Carson said. “They got a lot of good boards where we just couldn’t get it. Our shots were going in, though, and that helped a lot.”
Carson hit 3 of 4 shots from long distance in the second half and scored 17 points. She also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, and added three assists and three steals.
Isabelle Shiaras matched Carson’s 17 points, and she also had eight boards and three assists. Former Dixon teammate Bre Scheidegger was 6-for-8 from the field for 12 points, and she chipped in five assists and two steals.
Also for SVCC, Kennedy Kuykendall had nine rebounds, seven points and five assists, Bailey Wetzell had eight points, four boards and three steals, and Shian Galbreath had nine points, a team-high six assists and four rebounds.
For Malcolm X, Chears poured in 28 points, also had four rebounds and four assists.
“We had a whole week to prepare for them,” McQuarter said, “and defensively, I didn’t think we did a bad job. Offensively, once we played good defense, we weren’t able to capitalize. That’s been some of our struggles all year.”
Sauk coach Michele Kreczmer looked at her team’s defense as an area to shore up heading into tonight’s championship game against Highland.
“We definitely let too much in the lane,” Kreczmer said, “so we really need to work on stopping the ball up front and not letting them get so far in the paint.”
Highland owns two wins against SVCC this season – 58-53 in Dixon on Jan. 23, and 71-58 in Freeport on Feb. 15.
Region IV Tournament semifinal
Sauk Valley 74, Malcolm X 59
Star of the game: JayShari Chears, Malcolm X, 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Key performers: Jaida Carson, Sauk, 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals; Isabelle Shiaras, Sauk, 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists; Bre Scheidegger, Sauk, 12 points, 6-for-8 FGs, 5 assists, 2 steals
Up next: Region IV championship game, Sauk Valley (13-14) vs. Highland (20-9), 5 p.m. today