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Cierra Stanciel (right) of Naperville Central sidesteps Daisy Sanchez (1) of East Aurora. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: firstname.lastname@example.org
You always want to get off to a fast start in your first postseason tournament game and that’s exactly what Naperville Central did Tuesday in the semifinals of the Benet Class 4A Regional.
The third-seeded Redhawks (24-6) jumped out to a 12-2 lead and were never threatened as they put in a commendable opening playoff performance to top 13-seeded East Aurora, 49-35
Naperville Central will play Benet, a 60-54 winner over Naperville North, on Thursday in the regional finals.
“It was nice to get an early lead,” said Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum. “And then we extended it in each of the next two quarters. It’s been said that the first tournament game is the hardest, and I agree with that to a certain degree. I thought we played solid, nothing flashy. I knew East Aurora would give us a game. But, we made them earn everything they got.”
“We played well all-around,” said Victoria Trowbridge, who led the Redhawks with 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. “We played solid defense and crashed the board really well.”
Laura Dierking had a fine all-around game for the Redhawks with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
“Laura does all the dirty work for us,” said Nussbaum. “She gets key rebounds and just does great with the little things.”
The Redhawks led 27-15 at the half and then extended the margin to 35-21 at the end of three quarters.
The Tomcats (12-13) made a mini-run in the fourth quarter to get the deficit to single digits, but the Redhawks regained control of the game down the stretch.
Tyshee Towner scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for East Aurora and Desiree Rhodes scored 14 with 10 rebounds.
“We got to within nine in the fourth quarter and then we missed two free throws that would have made it closer,” said East Aurora coach Bill Anderson. “Then they came down and capitalized on that. They made some big plays that we didn’t make. They have better skilled kids.”
Anderson had praise for the Tomcats center Rhodes for her strong performance.
“Desiree was aggressive,” Anderson said. “She did a good job of attacking their bigs. I’m very proud of this team and I liked our effort tonight.”