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Cierra Stanciel (right) of Naperville Central protects the ball from the steal attempt of Eden Olson of Benet Academy. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
A look at Naperville Central’s stats through the first three games of the season told head coach Andy Nussbaum that the Redhawks weren’t getting enough shots for their premier post player Victoria Trowbridge.
On Tuesday, the Redhawks (4-0) remedied that concern. The Redhawks pounded the ball inside to the 6-foot-1 senior who scored 20 points to lead host Naperville Central to a 50-41 win over Benet in the first round of the Benet/Naperville Tip-Off Tournament.
“Victoria was fifth on the team in shots,” said Nussbaum. “We did a pretty good job of changing that. Tonight was the best she’s played. She was moving well and she was looking for the ball.”
“My teammates fed me the ball amazingly,” said Trowbridge. “It’s easy when you get a good feed. We knew what we had to do to get the win tonight against one of our biggest rivals.”
The Redhawks’ height advantage helped build a 30-20 halftime lead against a relatively inexperienced Redwings squad (3-1) that was missing their top player, Christen Prasse, who is healing from an ankle injury and has not played in the first four games. She’s expected back for tournament play this weekend.
The Redhawks increased the lead to 37-22 midway through the third quarter, but a pair of baskets by Emily Schramek ignited Benet, which went on an 11-point run. Thanks to effective pressure defense, Benet cut the lead to 37-33 at the end of the third quarter.
“In the first half we gave them too many open looks,” said Benet coach Peter Paul. “We made a comeback because we were able to pressure the ball.”
Continued Benet defensive pressure narrowed the gap to 38-35 in the fourth before the Redhawks got their bearings again. A couple of baskets by Trowbridge extended the margin to seven and then a basket off a steal by Cierra Stanciel and three baskets by Laura Dierking down the stretch helped put the game away.
“We played pretty good defense tonight,” said Nussbaum. “The way they’ve been scoring, holding them to 41 points was all right. We weathered the storm and came out with a big win. Any team that wins a game between these two teams gets a big win.”
Dierking finished with 10 points and Trowbridge led in rebounds with nine. Jamie Cuny scored eight points and also blocked four shots. Benet’s scoring was led by Emily Eshoo, who totaled 15 with two three-pointers and Kathleen Doyle scored 11.
“We’re young and we’re suffering some growing pains,” said Paul. “Their big kids inside hurt us early. But, we’ll be better when Chrissie comes back. She’ll settle us down a lot.”