KANKAKEE — In a recent interview with the Daily Journal, Kankakee girls basketball coach Kurt Weigt said he’s had plenty of losses in his career that have provided more lessons than some wins. Wednesday’s 49-36 loss at home to Lincoln-Way Central definitely will be one of those losses.
The Kays struggled to handle the aggressive approach the Knights took defensively, which forced more Kankakee turnovers (18) than made-baskets (17). For a team that has as many freshmen as it does seniors (two), the experience the Kays got Wednesday will last longer than the sting of an early-season, nonconference loss.
“They were a solid basketball team that exploited things and were very well coached,” Weigt said. “They controlled the tempo and made us play faster than we wanted to at times, then they slowed us down.
“We’ve got to do a better job but with a number of freshmen and sophomores; this group collectively doesn’t have a lot of games [together]. … We’ll continue to get better and go back to the drawing board on things.”
The Kays, who fell to 1-1 with the loss after finding themselves ranked 10th in this week’s Associated Press Class 3A Poll, came out Wednesday with heavy defensive pressure themselves like they did when they forced 23 turnovers in last week’s 53-45 win against Rich Township. Knights guard Colleen Erdman hit three 3-pointers in the early going to force the Kays into a more traditional, man-to-man defense.
Save for a brief stretch during which the Knights scored 8 of the last 9 points of the quarter, the Kays were able to hang in that man-to-man pretty well, aside from Haley Stoklusa catching fire on a few consecutive back-door plays.
“We did a decent job, but they’re well coached,” Weigt said. “They set a lot of back screens, and this group hasn’t played a lot of man-to-man. But at the end of the day, to get to where you want to go, we [have to] be able to play man-to-man.
“When you get deep in a tournament, all those teams are gonna make you do things you won’t be comfortable doing, and I thought they took us out of a lot of what we tried to do.”
The Kays were able to make a bit of a push behind Avery Jackson, Taylor Albertie and Amari Stevenson and were able to briefly pull within single digits before the Knights finished the deal with a pair of late steals that went the other way for uncontested buckets.
“There were some spurts where we really competed hard and did some things at the end,” Weigt said. “We battled to the final horn and didn’t quit, so that was good to see some things we can build on.”
Jackson led the Kays with 12 points, four rebounds and two steals. Nikkel Johnson had 7 points. Stevenson had 6 points and three rebounds. Albertie had 5 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals.
The Kays host Thornton at 6 p.m. Monday.