Girls Basketball: Naperville Central’s experience pays off, tops West AuroraWest Aurora's Taylor Jacobsen (10), and Naperville Central's Jamie Cuny (24), give chase for the loose ball on Thursday December 8, 2011 at Naperville Central High School. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 8, 2011 10:01PM
Coming down the stretch of a close game, the different between an experienced, veteran team and a young squad can really become apparent.
In Thursday’s DuPage Valley Conference game against West Aurora, Naperville Central’s girls basketball team showed off its veteran depth to pull away for a 58-49 win.
The young Blackhawks held a brief 46-44 lead with 4:49 left in the game, but the Redhawks closed the game out on a 14-3 run to turn things around and improve to 2-0 in DVC play.
“It’s just the years of playing together and knowing your teammates,” Central senior Emma Donahue said. “(West Aurora is) a young team. They’re skilled and everything, but they just don’t have the connection that we do in a tight situation. They’re going to build on that as they get older. They’re going to get better.”
But Thursday was a night for the veterans. After a three-pointer from Abriya Zeitz and a lay-up from Elizabeth Skaggs gave West (3-5, 0-2) a 46-44 lead, Central (5-4) had to regroup.
Jamie Cuny’s three-pointer with 4:27 left gave Central the lead at 47-46, and the Redhawks never looked back. Donahue and Jill D’Amico, back after missing time last week traveling to a club soccer tournament, each scored four points in the final run.
“We’re just young and inexperienced and don’t quite understand when you have to come up with some key shots to win and pull it together,” West coach Connie Siljendahl said. “We did at times. We just learn and grow from this, because we did some great things.”
One thing the Blackhawks excelled at was outside shooting. The Blackhawks hit 8 of 18 three-pointers as a team in the loss. Zeitz went 4-for-6 on her own and Alexis Nelson added three three-pointers. They each scored 14 points to lead West and tie Donahue for game-high honors.
“They’re a great shooting team and they’re going to scare anyone if they can shoot like they did tonight,” Donahue said of West.
The win came in coach Andy Nussbaum’s first game since learning that he will be inducted into the Illinois High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame this spring. The inductees were announced Wednesday.
“It’s pretty cool,” Nussbaum said. “The Hall of Fame, you’re considered to be one of the best. That’s a pretty high honor, especially when it’s your peers. It’s very nice. I appreciate it.”