GIRLS BASKETBALL: Early turnovers prove costly for Peotone
PEOTONE — Peotone entered Friday with a chance to advance to the championship game of its own holiday tournament on Saturday, but thanks to a stingy Plainfield South defense, the Blue Devils fell 49-36.
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak and dropped the Blue Devils to 12-5 on the season. They finished pool play of the Blue Devil Holiday Classic with a 2-1 record.
“Early in the game, we were making shots, but didn’t have the possessions because we were turning it over,” Blue Devils coach Steve Strough said. “In the second half, we took care of the ball better, but we didn’t make shots.”
The Blue Devils had triple the amount of turnovers (15) as they did made shots (five) in the first half. But despite the poor handling of the Cougars’ full-court press, the Blue Devils managed to stay within one possession until Shannon Smith sunk her third 3-pointer of the half to give Plainfield South a 28-22 lead just before the halftime buzzer.
“Every time they’d get away, we would hit a big shot or make some free throws,” Strough said. “We got the ball in good spots, but just didn’t get enough looks and make enough shots.”
The Blue Devils did play well on the defensive end, holding the Cougars to just 17-of-58 shooting (29 percent). Strough said the Blue Devils’ defense was their biggest source of offense, as the Cougars couldn’t set up their press off of missed baskets.
“That was a big thing we talked about, the better defense and rebounding we do, the less they can set up pressure,” Strough said. “We broke the press at the first level, it’s the second level where we made some mistakes, but we corrected it in the second half.”
In the second half, the Blue Devils nearly cut their turnovers in half, down to nine, but couldn’t seem to get the ball in the basket, shooting just 6-of-18 (33 percent) in the second half, as the Cougars outscored the Blue Devils 21-14 over the final two frames to secure their spot in the tournament’s championship game against Kankakee on Saturday.
Mae Graffeo had 12 points, three rebounds and a block to lead the Blue Devils. Sam Gwiazda scored eight points, all in the first half, and added nine rebounds, an assist, four steals and two blocks.
The Blue Devils take on Watseka at 12 p.m. Saturday in the tournament’s third-place game, and the Cougars and Kankakee play for the championship at 1:30 p.m.