HERSCHER — When two struggling teams meet in a conference matchup, the final outcome often is determined by who finds just enough to put a win together and regain stride.

That was the exactly the case when Reed-Custer traveled to Herscher in an Illinois Central Eight Conference matchup Monday evening.

Both teams struggled to protect the basketball during the contest, as the two teams combined for 47 turnovers, but it was the Comets who came out victorious, thanks to a second-quarter surge they carried to the tune of a 42-29 victory.

“I saw the aggression out of my girls, and they were a little bit frustrated with Saturday’s [39-29 loss to Streator],” said Reed-Custer coach Shelby Zwolinski. “So, they were able to take it out on the floor tonight with a great effort.”

After a first quarter that saw both teams struggle offensively to a 12-6 lead for Reed-Custer, the Comets caught fire out the gate, going on a 6-0 run before they took a 24-12 lead at the half. Maddie McPherson scored 6 of her team-high 12 points for Reed-Custer in the second quarter after she got some easy passes inside from her Comets teammates.

“Honestly, it was all my teammates,” McPherson said. “They give great passes, and I guess I make the wide-open layups, but it’s all about my teammates who are making the great passes to me inside.”

As much as Reed-Custer wanted to cling to its double-digit lead during the second half, the Tigers made things interesting with a hot start to begin the third. Herscher clamped down on defense and held Reed-Custer to just 2 points in the third quarter, which helped the Tigers create an 11-2 run to cut the Comets’ lead to 3 points heading into the fourth.

“All we talked about at halftime was to get off the floor a little bit more and put the ball in the basket,” Herscher head coach Philip Peacock said. “We came out there and Haley Wagner hit a 3-pointer and then hit another, and all of a sudden, everyone had confidence. … However, we lacked that most of the time throughout.”

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they were unable to replicate their success in the third and never got any closer than the margin they entered the final frame facing.

“It was a total team effort,” McPherson said. “I’m just proud of our team because we were in a slump and kind of insecure, so getting this win will definitely give us confidence going forward.”

The win helped the Comets end their two-game losing streak to improve to 3-2 on the season. The Tigers fell to 1-5.

STAT BOOK

McPherson made her presence known inside the paint with 12 points to lead Reed-Custer. Danielle Cherry added 10 points, including three 3-pointers made in the first quarter alone. Brooklyn Harding added 5 points, all in the final quarter.

Reed-Custer’s Haley Wagner dropped a game-high 14 points, followed by Elise Kukuck with 5 points and Macey Moore with 4 points.

Up Next

Reed-Custer will return home for another ICE matchup against Wilmington at 7 p.m. Thursday. Herscher gets a rare nonconference matchup against Grace Christian at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.