Johnsburg girls beat Woodstock North

WOODSTOCK – A couple of missed free throws in the first quarter were far from Johnsburg senior guard Maddie Himpelmann’s mind every time she stepped to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

The Skyhawks had battled back from what had been a six-point deficit in the third quarter against Woodstock North but needed to convert at the free-throw line to complete the comeback. Himpelmann scored nine of her team-high 13 points in the fourth, including making 7 of 9 free throws, to lead Johnsburg to a 43-38 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division win.

With the victory, the Skyhawks (3-5 overall, 1-1 FVC Fox) already matched last year’s regular-season win total.

“I just realized I kind of have to make them,” Himpelmann said of her fourth-quarter free throws. “I just kind of put that into my head and did what I had to do.

“We have a lot of chemistry on the team this year so we’re going to work together really well.”

Despite being held without a field goal in the second quarter, Johnsburg made 8 of 14 free throws to trail the Thunder 22-21 at halftime. Tied at 30 through three quarters, Johnsburg took a four-point lead early in fourth while shutting out Woodstock North (2-6, 0-2) through the first three minutes of the quarter.

“You survive,” Skyhawks coach Brad Frey said. “We shot better free throws in the second quarter. We were terrible in the first quarter with free throws, but we came back. I was so proud of Maddie Himpelmann.”

The Thunder pulled within 34-33 of the Skyhawks with 3:57 left in the game after a layup and free throw by Woodstock North sophomore center Haley Ahr. The Skyhawks’ zone defense struggled to stop Ahr, who scored a game-high 21 points. But Johnsburg neutralized the Thunder’s open looks on the perimeter, and the Skyhawks’ full-court press helped create turnovers leading to easy points.

Three Skyhawks finished in double figures with junior forward Trace Chase and senior guard Katie Poczkalski each scoring 10 points.

Both teams were sloppy in the first quarter, combining for 21 turnovers. They settled down, however, and the Thunder were able to turn a 13-10 Johnsburg lead in the first quarter into a 28-23 Woodstock North advantage midway through the third quarter. The Thunder had too many stretches during the second half in which they couldn’t score, and Johnsburg was able to take advantage.

“We struggled scoring, but we were right around our average,” Thunder coach Mike Lewis said. “We’ll be around 40, 45 (points), but we need to hold them under 40 and we got closer.”