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One of these days Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum will cease being surprised at what his team is capable of.
That day has yet to arrive. The No. 16 Redhawks left him grinning and shaking his head after they knocked Evanston from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 55-32 rout Friday night in the semifinals of the 30th annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic.
Naperville Central will face No. 20 Maine South (15-2), which beat No. 12 Fenwick 69-61, in Saturday’s title game.
Evanston (15-1) was playing without its leading scorer and rebounder, 6-2 senior center Alecia Cooley, but the Redhawks (16-1) played so well it is doubtful her presence could have changed the outcome.
“We just beat a very good team,” Nussbaum said. “It’s kind of unfortunate that they don’t have Cooley playing, but there’s still a lot of talent on that team. Our team continues to impress me. I’m more impressed than I was yesterday [after beating New Trier]”
Naperville Central has excelled at scoring inside and that was especially true in this one as 6-2 senior center Victoria Trowbridge dominated with a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Trowbridge, a Nebraska-Omaha recruit, scored 10 points in the first quarter after teammate Jamie Cuny tallied the game’s first five points. That gave the Redhawks a 15-9 lead and Evanston never caught up.
“This is one of the best feelings ever,” Trowbridge said. “We’ve got such good chemistry. We want to get the ball inside to me and Jamie and our wings do such a good of feeding it to me.
“It’s not just me. One day I might score 20 and another game it might be Jamie scoring 20.”
The Redhawks demonstrated that diversity in the third quarter when they outscored the Wildkits 16-11 to extend a 21-17 halftime lead to 36-28. Trowbridge scored eight in the period and forward Laura Dierking the other seven. Both players had five rebounds in the period.
Dierking’s free throw with 1.4 seconds left in the third turned out to be the start of a 15-0 run by the Redhawks, who held the Wildkits scoreless for a 7:06 stretch. Precision passing and agile defense were just what Nussbaum ordered.
“We knew we’d have a mismatch and it wasn’t just Victoria,” Nussbaum said. “We also got the ball inside to Jamie and then Dierking had a great third quarter. We executed what we wanted to and I thought defensively we did a nice job.
“It’s one thing for me to tell them what I want them to do. It’s another thing for them to go out and do it and in many cases they’re doing it before I say anything.”
Dierking finished with nine points and seven rebounds for Naperville Central, which outrebounded Evanston 37-18. Cuny and Mary Buttgereit both scored five points and point guard Shannon Ryan dished five assists for the Redhawks.
Sierra Clayborn led Evanston with nine points.