The Knox College women’s basketball team sealed back-to-back victories for the second time this season with an 87-75 Senior Night win over Illinois College on Tuesday night.
Before the game the Prairie Fire honored seniors Kristin McDonald and Sara Johnson, which provided the Prairie Fire with an emotional edge at the start of the game.
“To be honest, [the idea of playing the last home game] took a while to set in for me, but I guess I had more energy than other games. I was excited and nervous at the same time,” Johnson said. “Because we are so close as a team, it was also a big game for our teammates. Everyone came out strong, and we made some shots early on.”
Knox trailed early but took the lead after five minutes of play with the help of some sharpshooting from junior
Chantal Heckman. Heckman made each of her first three three-point attempts, doubling her average per game output for the season.
“Chantal is having a great junior season. She’s playing really well,” head coach Emily Cline said. “She’s making things happen, whether it’s getting a hand on the ball defensively or hitting a big shot on offense. I couldn’t be more pleased with her play.”
Knox led 41-34 at half and expanded their advantage to as many as 17 points in the second half.
“Our quickness slowed them down offensively. We did our best to push their bigger girls outside and move them around,” McDonald said.
“We came out of the gate with a lot of emotion, but almost too much emotion. We missed a lot of shots early in the game. We were able to settle down over the course of the first half, and then we took over in the second half,” Cline said.
Knox came out on top, despite losing the rebounding battle by a staggering margin of 66-36.
“It’s difficult in the system to box out [the opponent] because you tend not to have the position, in the first place,” Johnson said. “But even when we did have position we struggled to box out. We are going to have to work on that before we play Carroll [this weekend]. We can’t give them opportunities at second shots.”
Johnson and McDonald each have one more opportunity to step foot on a basketball court when the Prairie Fire take on the Pioneers of Carroll University this Saturday.
“It [will be] my last game as a basketball player, but I have to treat it like any other game I’ve played in the last four years to keep the emotions from running too high,” McDonald said.
“[McDonald and Johnson] are both from my first recruiting class. I’ve seen them over four years, which has been a blessing. They are tough, hard players that leave a huge gap to fill for this program,” Cline said.
Though she only registered two points against the Lady Blues, sophomore Katie White was named Prairie Fire Performer of the Week by the Knox Athletic Department for a pair of stellar performances against Monmouth College and Beloit College last week.
Against the Fighting Scots, White knocked down three three-pointers en route to a career high 13 points. White, who had never reached double digit points before the game against Monmouth, followed the effort with a 12 point output against the Buccaneers last Saturday to help lead the Prairie Fire to a 108-103 victory.
Knox’s game against Beloit created a matchup of the Midwest Conference’s top two scorers in Prairie Fire sophomore Jodi Marver and Beloit senior Lauren McNanna. Marver entered the game trailing McNanna by less than one point in scoring average, but failed to make up any ground, as each player scored 21 points in the game.
With one game remaining for each player, Marver needs to outscore McNanna by five points in order to win the scoring title. Marver takes on Carroll University while McNanna faces Cornell College.