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Naperville Central's Laura Dierking looks to score on Naperville North defender Zoe Swift on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
There are games that aren’t pretty and then there are games like Thursday’s neighborhood brawl between Naperville Central and Naperville North.
“It was extremely not pretty,” Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said.
Pretty or not, it still ends up in the win column for Naperville Central.
The No. 17 Redhawks (18-3, 4-2 in the DuPage Valley Conference) got 21 points from Jamie Cuny and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Victoria Trowbridge to defeat their rivals from across town 53-43. Central used a 16-6 run over the first 9:41 of the second half to erase a 22-21 halftime deficit.
“I heard Bill Belichick on the radio this morning,” Nussbaum said. “What does an NFL coach think at this time of year? He said. ‘We’ll do whatever we have to do. We’ll adjust our game plan to attack their strengths, get a win and go onto the next week. That’s kind of what I felt like tonight.”
Delany White’s three-pointer and Zoe Swift’s conventional three-point play staked Naperville North (9-9, 2-4) to an early 8-2 lead. It also prompted a swift response from Naperville Central.
“We’re better playing man-to-man defense, but we had two shots during the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game,” Nussbaum said. “So we felt like let’s trap and pressure them and force them to give up the ball a little bit.
“We had moderate success,” the coach added. “It wasn’t great as far as forcing turnovers. But it was great as far as getting them to play. We increased the number of possessions, and defensively in the third quarter we did a pretty nice job.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win,” Nussbaum said.
Cuny was the beneficiary of two perfectly-executed inbounds plays under the Central basket and was on the receiving end of two long-distance passes by Shannon Ryan (seven points, four steals, five assists) to help the Redhawks build a 41-31 lead with 3:59 remaining in the game.
“We were really slow in the first half,” Cuny said. “We came out really slow. I don’t know if we were asleep or something. But in the second half we pushed the ball and we held them two just two baskets, so we picked up our defense.”
Cuny also attacked the basket with more ferocity in the third quarter after her early three-pointers failed to fall.
“If my outside shots are off I have to attack the basket,” she said. “I’m able to do that because of my length. I’m taller than a lot of people, especially this team (Naperville North). I attack the basket when I can or on the fast break when Shannon (Ryan) finds me. It’s what I do when I can’t hit my outside shots.”
Swift led Naperville North with 17 points and Kayla Sharples added nine points. Morganne Freeman had eight rebounds to go with her four points.
Laura Dierking and Cierra Stanciel each had seven points for Central. Stanciel had four points in the final 1:05 including two free throws to extend Central’s lead to 53-40 after the Huskies had closed to within 47-40.
“We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been up and lost the lead late,” Cuny said. “We had an 11-point lead and they’ve come back. We have to work on closing games, but we did that tonight. It was not a pretty game, but we got done what we needed to do.”