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Alexis McGaughy (left) of Waubonsie Valley looks for an open teammate as Cierra Stanciel of Naperville Central moves in to defend. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
After coughing up the lead late and falling by three to Wheaton North in DuPage Valley Conference play Saturday, the best thing that could have happened to Naperville Central’s girls basketball team was seeing a Monday nonconference game on the schedule.
The Redhawks took full advantage of the opportunity to get that loss out of their heads.
Central went to Waubonsie Valley Monday and put up a dominating, 68-35 win in advance of Thursday’s showdown with crosstown rival Naperville North.
“A game like that can tend to turn into something ugly,” Central coach Andy Nussbaum said of Saturday’s loss. “It was nice to get back out and play right away. We played pretty well given the circumstances. We’re just going to try to get better every time out and see what happens.”
Central (17-3 overall) missed all 10 of its three-point attempts as a team in the first half, but the Redhawks were still able to take a 35-15 lead into the half.
“We were down 20 at half, not because they executed better or shot better, but because they outworked us,” Waubonsie coach Dave Owles said. “We can’t afford that. There’s no excuse to not have the effort.”
The Redhawks out-rebounded Waubonsie (2-15) by a 24-to-13 margin and forced 17 turnovers to compensate for their cold shooting from the outside.
“That’s a big difference in our game,” Central guard Laura Dierking said. “We do our best when everybody is rebounding and getting second and third shots. That’s when we feel most in control and that’s when we have our best games.”
In the third quarter, Central sophomore guard Cierra Stanciel helped the Redhawks extend the lead with three steals and three lay-ups before Nussbaum emptied the bench for the fourth quarter.
When the Redhawks’ second unit, which doesn’t get much playing time in most games, got into the game, they got hot from the outside, hitting five three-pointers, to keep extending the lead. Emily Kraft and Madison O’Flynn each hit two three-pointers off the bench.
“I was pleased with the effort our second string gave in the fourth quarter,” Nussbaum said. “It’s good for them. A lot of those guys don’t get to play a lot, so it’s nice that they got in.”
Stanciel paced the Redhawks with 14 points and seven steals. Laura Dierking added 11 points and eight rebounds.
It was the last nonconference game for Central, who will need some help to win a DVC title after losing to both Wheaton schools already in conference play.
“Our goal is to get better every time and win one more game,” Nussbaum said. “We’ll have to get some help. That’s just the way it is.”