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With her team bitten by the injury bug to start the season, and pitted against Rosary in a close game in the season opener, Yorkville senior point guard Corinne Rowe took over Tuesday night.
Three players, including the returning leading scorer from last season, Lindsey Schlichting, weren’t even in uniform, and Creighton Fed went down with an ankle injury during the game. But Rowe let her three years of varsity experience show.
She hit 7-of-8 free throws during a 13-2 run that ended the game and gave the Foxes a 52-43 win at the Aurora Christian/IMSA Hoop Happenings Tournament.
“She was unbelievable,” Yorkville coach Luke Engelhardt said. “Third year with us, we knew she was going to have a good year. Hopefully she can keep this going. She looked like she was having fun. She wanted the ball in her hands in every moment of the game. She looked like a big-time player.”
It was a wild game that featured foul trouble on both sides early in the game and even saw a 20-minute delay thanks to a fire alarm. But once play resumed in the third quarter, the two teams were locked in a close battle.
Rosary took a 41-39 lead with 5:15 left in the game on a Quincy Kellett driving lay-up.
But Rowe took over from there. She hit two free throws, picked up a quick steal and another free throw and provided a key steal and an assist during the decisive final run. She finished with a game-high 21 points to go with six rebounds, six assists and five steals.
“She’s a very good player,” Rosary coach Jessie Wilcox said. “You could tell she was a senior. She controls the game. Usually she doesn’t score as much, but with two of her starters not playing, she stepped up. That’s what good players do. She had a heck of a game.”
The Foxes’ defense had a lot to do with the decisive final quarter as well. They harassed the Royals into 11 turnovers in the fourth and managed to stay out of foul trouble after a foul-plagued first half.
“This year, we’re quick so we can move from place to place,” Rowe said. “If everybody continues to get to their spots, we will continue to force a lot of turnovers.”
It was the first chance either team had to see how referees were going to call the game with the new emphasis on touch fouls this year. Add in the close game and the fire alarm delay, and it made for a memorable opener.
“I give our girls a lot of credit,” Wilcox said. “That was probably the most up-and-down, hectic, craziest first game to experience. It’s going to take a while for everybody to adjust to the referees. As long as they keep it consistent, I think we’ll be OK.”