EUREKA – Knox overcame an early deficit with a big second quarter and later withstood a late Eureka rally to earn a 73-68 non-conference win over the Red Devils, Wednesday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center. Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) scored 17 points and collected 17 rebounds in the Red Devils' opening-night loss.
Dooley hauled down 10 of her 17 rebounds at the offensive end. She made six field goals and also went 5-for-7 at the free throw line. Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) also put up a double-double with 12 points and 10 of EC's 17 assists, while Ashley Harfst (Saunemin, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) shared team-high scoring honors with 17 points.
The Red Devils closed the first quarter with a flourish, using Harfst's triple to ignite a 12-2 blitz over the period's final 4:11. An Olivia Falls (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) bucket allowed the hosts' lead to balloon to double digits and EC led 19-10 after 10 minutes.
Knox erupted for 26 points in the second quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer from Jarrelyn McCall with 4:10 remaining in the half. The Prairie Fire scored 13 of the half's final 17 points and carried a 36-27 cushion into the locker room.
The KC advantage expanded in the third quarter after Karlie Thorn pushed the lead to 45-28 on a field goal with 7:30 on the clock. The Red Devils answered with another run of their own, clawing within 49-42 on a pair of Harfst free throws at the 3:58 mark. Knox nudged its lead back to double digits and led 61-51 after 30 minutes.
The Prairie Fire led by as many 15 in the fourth quarter before Eureka one final surge. EC scored eight in a row over a stretch of 122 seconds that culminated with a triple from Ja'Keesha Hawkins (Peoria, Ill./Peoria H.S./Kankakee) to trail 72-67 with 27 seconds left.
The EC push ended up coming too late. McCall was fouled moments later and split a pair of foul shots, but the Red Devils wouldn't score again.
Eureka will have less than 24 hours to prepare for its next home contest, a 6 p.m. non-conference start Thursday against USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield.