By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
ERIE, Ill. —
Prophetstown led Erie 6-4 early Tuesday night in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference girls basketball rivalry game.
It had all the makings of an epic battle between teams that had combined to win 10 of their first 11 games this season.
Then the Prophets (6-1, 3-0 TRAC-9) went on a run.
Cassie Reiley drilled a 3-pointer, Clare Kramer made two layups and Corrie Reiley made a layup and a 3-pointer to put Prophetstown ahead 18-4. The Prophets then scored six of the next eight points to take control at 24-6 on the way to a 53-30 win.
“It took us a little bit to get into the flow of things,” Cassie Reiley said. “We have a good chemistry together. It’s really fun when we get everything going and score fastbreak points.”
Erie (5-1, 0-1) had a couple of good chances during the Prophets’ run, but the Cardinals had trouble getting shots to fall. Erie shot 12-of-49 from the floor in the contest.
“Cassie hit a 3 and then we didn’t get back on defense and they got an easy bucket,” Erie coach Brian Howell said. “We went down and put up a great shot and didn’t score. They came down and scored again. That little spurt there changed momentum. Our girls kind of got taken back by it in the first quarter. Then it just snowballed.”
Prophetstown also forced Erie into an uncharastically high number of turnovers, which led to some of the Prophets’ transition points.
“Their defensive pressure early in the game threw us out of rhythm,” Howell said. “I’ve got to give credit to their guards, especially the Reiley girls. They put great defensive pressure on us. They created some steals and got in our head a little bit. We’ve got to learn to get through that. That’s a good learning experience.”
Erie’s offense also woke up in the second quarter. The Cardinals scored half of their points in the second quarter, behind eight of Kayla Waggoner’s team-high 10 points. Waggoner’s layup cut the deficit to 24-8 early in the quarter. Then she nailed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cap a 9-2 Erie run that put the Cardinals behind by 16 at halftime.
The third quarter didn’t see much scoring for either team. Erie held Prophetstown to five points, but the Prophets’ defense was strong as well as Erie scored only three points.
“Watching us shoot in that third quarter, I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” Howell said. “We had some really nice looks in that third quarter. We just couldn’t get anything to fall to help us make a run. I think if we could have gotten some shots to fall and made a run at them, it’s a different type of ballgame.”
The beginning of the fourth quarter showed Prophetstown’s strength — suffocating defense leading to transition points.
“Great defense converts to easy baskets,” Cassie Reiley said. “We work on our defense every day at practice. That’s really been a point of emphasis this year.”
The Prophets allowed one point through the first 6:33 of the fourth quarter. During that time, Riley Walters made three fastbreak layups, Corrie Reiley hit a 3-pointer in transition and Cydney Westen made a jumper to push the lead to 51-23.
Prophetstown is the defending co-conference champion and regional champion, so the girls knew the Cardinals would be gunning for them.
“We knew we had a target on our backs,” Cassie Reiley said. “We’ve beat them the last few times and especially after the regional championship game we won against them. This is a rivalry game. ... We knew we had to come out with big hearts, play our game and hustle on defense. I think we did a really good job of that. Our shots were falling. Our team is starting to click.”
Erie suffered its first loss — Howell said he was much happier it came now than in February — after not playing in about a week. The Prophets defeated Riverdale, the team they shared last season’s conference title with, in overtime on Saturday.
“We talked about this — me and (assistant) coach (Scott) Miner,” Howell said. “We had a week off over Thanksgiving break. We gave them the holiday off; we gave them four days off. Boy we looked like we were off for a week. They played Saturday against Riverdale, so maybe that helped them. I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but there might be something to it.
“Maybe we ate too much turkey.”
PROPHETSTOWN 53, ERIE 30
PROPHETSTOWN (6-1, 3-0) — Cassie Reiley 4 0-0 11, Kaeli Kovarik 0 0-0 0, Corrie Reiley 5 0-0 13, Heather Strike 1 0-0 2, Molly Corbin 0 0-0 0, Karlie Stafford 0 0-0 0, Cydney Westen 1 0-0 2, Brooke Remley 1 0-0 2, Riley Walters 6 0-0 12, Clare Kramer 4 2-2 11, Mikayla Bolton 0 0-2 0. Totals 22 2-4 53.
ERIE (5-1, 0-1) — Bailee Clausen 0 0-0 0, Courtney Cobert 0 2-4 2, Rachel Cobert 2 0-2 4, Lexi Floming 0 1-2 1, Des Lawson 1 1-2 3, Laykin Miner 2 0-0 4, Paige Rus 1 0-0 2, Peyton Rus 2 0-0 4, Lindsey Tempelmann 0 0-0 0, Kayla Waggoner 4 1-2 10, Victoria Young 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 5-12 30.
Prophetstown 15 20 5 13 — 53
Erie 4 15 3 8 — 30
3-point goals — Prophetstown 7 (Ca. Reiley 3, Co. Reiley 3, Kramer); Erie 1 (Waggoner).