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Madison Richmond (middle) of Rosary tries to go to the hoop as Taylor Jacobsen (right) of West Aurora tries to strip the ball from her grasp. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Rosary overcame an early 17-9 deficit and a 38-31 deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter to pull even with West Aurora on four occasions during Tuesday’s nonconference girls basketball game. But poor free throw shooting ultimately caught up with the Royals as the Blackhawks pulled out a 51-50 victory.
Rosary (3-4) shot just 5-of-16 from the free throw line.
“You can’t take back the free throws and missed layups, you can only learn from it,” Rosary coach Jessie Wilcox said. “We’ll be working on free throws and layups in practice, but we were getting the shots we wanted. We just have to finish them.”
Coincidentally, it was a free throw by West Aurora’s Elizabeth Skaggs that proved to be the difference. After missing her first of two attempts with 7.6 seconds left, Skaggs suffered through the delay of a timeout before sinking her second attempt to provide the difference.
“I’ve been working on my free throws for a long time and I get down on myself after I miss one,” Skaggs said. “After the timeout my teammates patted me on the back and got me going and I was glad to make it for them.”
West Aurora (4-2) didn’t even allow the Royals to attempt a final shot as Erin Jacobson batted away a pass safely to her sister Taylor Jacobson to preserve the victory.
The Blackhawks proved to be most successful when they worked the ball inside to Skaggs (12 points, 8 rebounds), Abriya Zeitz (10 points, 8 rebounds) and even sophomore Kyler Robinson (6 points, 5 rebounds) who provided a nice lift off the bench.
“We were trying to focus on getting it inside because our strength is our height,” West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl said. “But sometimes we just don’t see it and aren’t looking enough. We missed a lot of opportunities inside, but we’ll get there.”
The Royals used the three-point arc to continue to battle back throughout the night. They sank 7 three-pointers, led by Madison Richmond who drained three. Karly Tate led the Royals with 13 points and Richmond and Rachel Choice each added 12 points.
“I’m happy that we competed and if we can start games the way we finish them, we’re going to be a heck of a basketball team,” Wilcox said. “I’m happy that we competed and they gave us a chance to win it at the end like they did.”