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West Aurora and Waubonsie Valley got caught up in a back-and-forth contest during Saturday afternoon’s finale in the Lady War Hawk Thanksgiving girls basketball tournament at Waubonsie Valley.
The teams shared nine ties until West Aurora pulled ahead 32-28 on a pair of field goals in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Blackhawks carried the momentum into the fourth quarter, scoring three straight baskets to finish a 10-0 run. It helped them prevail, 45-37.
“I knew we’d win all along, but I’m just not happy with the way we’re playing,” West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl said. “Some of our best players are not playing well and when they’re not playing well, it’s hard to win big games.”
Siljendahl had to be pleased with what she saw late in the contest as the Blackhawks worked the ball inside to Elizabeth Skaggs (12 points, eight rebounds) and 5-foot-10 junior Abriya Zeitz (13 points, six rebounds) attacked the basket with her size and athleticism.
“We just weren’t getting the ball inside to our bigs enough, so that was better,” Siljendahl said. “With Abriya (Zeitz), I’ve been waiting for her to step up and she played great in the second half. I’ve been telling her all season that no one is as quick or strong enough to stop her and she just needs to believe in herself.”
Skaggs and Zeitz closed the third quarter with baskets in the paint before Zeitz glided through the Waubonsie Valley defense for a pair of driving layups to open the final quarter. Shelby Zima added a jump shot and the Blackhawks turned a 28-28 tie with 1:30 left in the third quarter to a 38-28 lead with 6:45 remaining.
“I looked at the score and realized that we could beat them,” Zeitz said. “I decided to take the initiative and start leading the team and just took it to the hole.”
Waubonsie Valley (0-5) rallied to cut the deficit to 43-37 with 37 seconds left but couldn’t get any closer.
“I think our defense let us down today,” Warriors coach David Owles said. “We scored a season-high 37 points but just weren’t good enough on defense.”
The Warriors should get some help with their guard play when Emma Rigby returns next week.
Alexis Wiggins added seven points for the West Aurora (3-2). Wiggins was all an all-tournament selection along with teammate Erin Jacobsen. Other notable area selections included Oswego’s Erin Sinnott and Naperville North’s Zoe Swift.
Morgan Gastorf led the Warriors with nine points. Ryaen Johnson and Alexis McGaughy each added eight points.