As West Aurora continues to make strides with its girls basketball program, picking up a few pointers from a team like Naperville Central can be quite helpful.
In Thursday's DuPage Valley Conference contest in Naperville, the Redhawks had occasional lapses on defense, a few troubling foul situations, but still managed to come away with a 60-52 triumph to improve to 8-1 overall and 2-1 in the DVC.
All in the all Naperville Central showed why it's such a strong program. If center Victoria Trowbridge was in foul trouble, Jamie Cuny picked up the rebounding slack, along with some offense. If Shannon Ryan was in foul trouble or couldn't get a few shots to fall, well then sophomore Emily Kraft stepped up and hit a trio of 3s en route to 17 points off the bench.
"We're very balanced. Everyone contributes on the floor," said Cuny, who had a game-high 20 points and 8 rebounds. "It's not just two or three players and it's not just the starters. It's everyone together and we play very well as a team."
The Blackhawks (4-5, 0-3) also had nice contributions off their bench, as well as solid efforts from forwards Elizabeth Skaggs and Abriya Zeitz, but every time the visitors got close, the Redhawks seemed to have an answer. When Skaggs, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds, split a pair of free throws to open the second half, West Aurora trailed just 32-28.
But Cuny then exploded for 11 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key that started a personal 7-0 run from the senior. Thanks to Cuny's surge, the Redhawks led 47-37 after three quarters.
"Jamie's capable of doing that," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "I like the way we played as a team. Jamie had the hot hand and we found her."
West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl had no beefs with her team's effort, she's just anxious to see the junior-laden squad make the next step and start winning more games against top-notch programs.
"Liz (Skaggs) battles all the time and she's outsized all the time, but she plays like a big girl," she said of the junior forward. "But we've got to find it within ourselves to be able to win this type of game. We need to step up and have leadership and be determined to win these types of games."
On Thursday the Redhawks jumped ahead 18-9 after one quarter as Cuny sank a pair of 3s and Ryan and Kraft also knocked down long-range shots. Zeitz dropped in a pair of 3s while scoring 8 of her team-leading points for West Aurora in the first quarter. Freshman Carley Frauenhoff tallied 6 points in the game along with Alexis Wiggins who had a pair of 3s, but West Aurora could not contend with the Redhawks' balanced attack.
"We hit some big shots when we needed them and while defensively it was not a stellar performance, offensively we did some good things," Nussbaum said.
Trowbridge picked up two fouls in the first quarter and was whistled a third time midway through the third quarter but still finished with a game-high 12 rebounds for Naperville Central. Speedy Redhawks guard Cierra Stanciel fouled out late in the contest but did have 4 steals.