DIXON – Playing in just its second game since Nov. 17, the Sauk Valley women’s basketball team came into Saturday afternoon’s game against Daley a little nervous.
But the Skyhawks didn’t show it at all, as they notched their first win of the season in just their third home game – and first since Nov. 9 – with a resounding 86-27 rout.
Sauk (1-6) was solid at both ends of the court, sharing the ball while running a smooth offense (dishing 19 assists on 35 baskets) and shutting down the Bulldogs with a smothering 3-2 zone defense (nabbing 13 steals, forcing 25 turnovers, and limiting Daley to 18.5 percent shooting).
“I think we played really well together,” Sauk guard Bre Scheidegger said. “We passed the ball, we weren’t selfish, and we got a good lead right away. Coming in and scoring early, and having that big lead helped us set the tone and get that win.”
The Skyhawks came roaring out of the gate, as Scheidegger hit a 3-pointer, then Isabelle Kimpel scored on a putback before Scheidegger’s coast-to-coast layup off a steal forced a quick Daley timeout. Delaney Hinrichs then sandwiched a pair of 3s around another steal-and-layup from Scheidegger, then Kimpel scored inside off a nice pass from Aubree Schmitt for an 18-0 lead just 7:05 into the game.
“I think that fast start hyped us up more,” guard Karlee Doege said. “Once we came out and we made the first shot, then once we all started shooting and making it, it just kind of clicked. It was really nice to see everyone passing and making every shot, and getting a lot of layups.”
Doege ended the first quarter with a pair of 3s for a 24-3 Sauk lead, then Scheidegger opened the second with another coast-to-coast layup off a steal before putbacks by Schmitt and Shauni Warner pushed the lead to 30-4.
The Skyhawks closed the first half with a 13-0 run, started by a pretty post move by Kimpel, followed by a jumper from Scheidegger and a 3 from Schmitt, and ended with back-to-back 3s from Doege – off assists from Hinrichs and Schmitt – for a 45-12 lead at the break.
“I think we just focused on really working together,” Warner said. “The more we’ve played together, we’ve really become comfortable woking with each other, not being selfish with our shots, just seeing who’s open and who has a better shot and giving it to them.
The third quarter was all Skyhawks. After a Daley timeout just 2:25 into the period, Sauk went on a huge run to put an exclamation point on and already secure win. Doege’s 3 off a pump fake and sidestep and a three-point play on yet another steal-and-layup by Scheidegger made it 54-15, then after a basket by Daley’s Ashlea Eichelburger, the Skyhawks scored the next 22 points.
Scheidegger started it with two free throws, then Doege hit a layup off a sweet feed from Scheidegger. Warner scored off a lob from fellow post Kimpel, then added the next basket on a feed from Payton Murray. Schmitt hit a runout layup and a 3, then found Warner for another post bucket, before a Warner putback and Murray’s long-range 3 at the third-quarter buzzer.
Murray then scored on a runout layup to open the fourth, and after a putback by Daley’s Mary Jaine Gonzalez stopped Sauk’s 22-0 run, Schidegger hit a baseline pull-up jumper before layups by Doege and Schmitt – off assists from Scheidegger and Taylor Vance – capped a 34-4 run over a span of 12 minutes, 17 seconds.
“It was very fun out there to see such an unselfish team,” Schmitt said. “Everyone was looking down the court, and I’m glad everyone stepped up and played so well, because they were a little nervous at the start.”
When the Skyhawks weren’t scoring or dishing assists, they were often turning offensive rebounds into points, or grabbing those boards off their own glass for second- and third-chance scoring opportunities.
“I think focusing on getting big and going hard for the ball is really important, and I think we are starting to execute that in our games,” said Warner, one of two Skyhawks, along with Kimpel, who finished with double-doubles. “I think just having the mindset that, ‘That’s my ball, I’m going to go get it,’ is what really helped us get those rebounds.”
On the other end of the court, Sauk’s zone was nearly impenetrable – and when the Bulldogs did find a crack and drive in, they were usually forced into an off-balance shot or a tough pass that oftentimes was stolen.
“We were pinching at the top pretty well, and we did a lot of talking today,” Schmitt said. “Defense is all about communicating, moving, relocating, helping out, and if you play as a team and talk, then you’re going to get it done in the defensive end.”
Scheidegger led all scorers with 21 points, and also had five steals and three assists. Doege finished with 19 points – hitting all five of her 3s – and added three steals and two assists. Schmitt and Warner each scored 12, with Warner grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots, and Schmitt adding five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Kimpel had 11 points, 11 rebounds and a block, Vance chipped in five assists and four rebounds, and Hinrichs (6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block) and Murray (5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists) also stuffed the stat sheet.
All eight Skyhawks had a rebound, seven of them scored, and seven also dished an assist and had either a steal or a block. They had twice as many offensive rebounds as Daley (26-13) while outrebounding the Bulldogs 58-40, and they turned the ball over just 10 times.
“It’s cool to see, after so much work we’ve put into it, the success that we finally are starting to see,” Warner said.
Eichelburger led Daley with 13 points, but they came on 4-for-21 shooting. Polet Torbellia added eight points (4-for-18 shooting) and 11 rebounds, and 6-foot-3 Capri Hardin added four points, eight rebounds and five blocks. The Bulldogs shot 10-for-54 as a team, and did not have an assist.
Sauk Valley 86, Daley 27
Star of the game: Bre Scheidegger, Sauk, 21 points, 5 steals, 3 assists
Key performers: Karlee Doege, Sauk, 19 points, 5 3-pointers, 3 steals, 2 assists; Shauni Warner, Sauk, 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks; Aubree Schmitt, Sauk, 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; Isabelle Kimpel, Sauk, 11 points, 11 rebounds; Ashlea Eichelburger, Daley, 13 points, 4 rebounds
Up next: Sauk Valley at Daley, 5 p.m. Dec. 11