Naperville Central center Emma Donahue was too much to handle Saturday afternoon as the Redhawks extended their winning steak to eight games with a 46-43 victory over Naperville North.
The 6-foot-3 senior led Naperville Central with 21 points and was an aggressive presence in the paint on defense. The Redhawks (18-8, 12-1) racked up seven blocked shots.
“They didn’t have an answer for her. I wanted her to get 40,” said Naperville Central head coach Andy Nussbaum. “There were times we didn’t give her the ball I thought we should have, and there were times she got the ball, and I wanted her to shoot, and she didn’t. But 21 is pretty dang good.”
Both teams got off to a sluggish start. North (12-13, 4-9) led 6-5 after the first quarter, and the teams entered halftime tied 14-14.
Naperville North guard Shannon Bushman’s three-pointer gave the Huskies a 20-18 lead early in the third quarter.
The Redhawks responded with a 10-0 run sparked by three-pointers from guard Jill D’Amico and forward Jamie Cuny. Naperville Central pulled ahead 28-20 and never relinquished the lead.
“We did the things we needed to do to win. But I’m not all too sure that we handled our emotions very well in general. It was out of sorts a little bit,” said Nussbaum. “Certainly, we’re a better team than what we played today. But you know what, at this point of the season, a win is a win, so let’s move on.”
Bushman and Kayla Sharples each had 14 points to lead the Huskies.
Naperville Central enters their final regular season game at West Chicago on Thursday tied for first place in the DuPage Valley
“We’re 12-1 and the 12th win wasn’t very pretty. We’re one game away from where we wanted to be at the end of the season,” said Nussbaum.
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times and yourseason.com.