Having spent way more of Naperville North's game at West Aurora Thursday night on the bench in foul trouble than she wanted, senior guard Zoe Swift made the most of her minutes when she finally got back in.
After the Blackhawks had erased Naperville North's 13-point first half lead to go ahead for the first time midway through the fourth quarter, Swift re-entered.
Over the final 4:48 Swift scored all 6 of her points and assisted on two other baskets, helping her team turn a 42-39 deficit into a 52-48 victory.
"Zoe is a gamer," Naperville North coach Jacquie Discipio said. "We were really struggling without her. She's a state champion (in soccer), she knows how to win, so it is nice to have that composure down the home stretch."
Naperville North (10-12, 3-7 in the DuPage Valley Conference) reversed a 73-68 loss to West Aurora (9-14, 4-8) as the Blackhawks continue to miss junior Liz Skaggs sidelined for the year with a broken hand. Skaggs, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting with the Huskies, suffered the injury seven games ago, and West Aurora is 1-6 without her.
Swift's foul trouble started early and lasted all night. She was on the court igniting an up-tempo attack that saw the Huskies put 20 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter to grab a 20-11 lead.
But Swift was whistled for her third foul early in the second quarter and missed the final 7:10 of the first half. Naperville North scored just 5 points in the quarter as the Blackhawks trimmed the Huskies' 24-11 lead to 25-21 at halftime.
Swift was called for a reach-in and her fourth foul with 4:11 left in the third quarter forcing her to sit out nearly another full quarter before she returned to spearhead Naperville North's comeback.
"I was really upset about all the fouls especially the ones I didn't think were fouls," Swift said. "After I had the four fouls I had to be smart on defense and couldn't play as intense as I would like to. My team won so I don't really care about not scoring that many points."
West Aurora took its first lead of the game 38-36 with 4:41 left on a second-chance basket from sophomore call-up Joslyn Noel.
Swift pocketed a steal and fed Kayla Sharples for a layup, but a baseline drive by Taylor Jacobsen left the Blackhawks ahead 42-39 with three minutes remaining.
Swift sank a leaner and drew a foul. She completed the three-point play to tie the game at 42.
Swift assisted Sharples for a 3-point basket from the top of the key on the Huskies' next possession putting them ahead to stay 45-42.
After a jumper from Jenny Smith, Swift again found an open teammate, this time Cece Pope underneath to put the Huskies up 49-46 with a minute left.
Abriya Zeitz brought the Blackhawks back within 49-48. Swift hit a free throw, and then the Blackhawks turned the ball over with 14 seconds to go and a chance to tie down 50-48. Swift swished two more free throws with 10 seconds left to make it a two-posession game.
Discipio praised her entire team for its improvement from its earlier loss to the Blackhawks including the freshman Pope's "breakout game."
"In the beginning (of the season) I started out a little shaky because I was nervous playing varsity as a freshman," Pope said. "But then I got better and today was just an outstanding game for me, I can't deny that."
Pope led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Sharples scored 15 and Jenny Smith came off the bench with 8.
"I've been preaching to the girls that each player has to get better," Discipio said. "That was evident tonight. Cece had her breakout game tonight. I think that's a testament to our practices. Everyone got better from the second time around. We were a stronger unit than we were when we saw them a couple weeks ago."
West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl praised her team's comeback from the first-half hole and their effort but is still looking for a better execution late.
"They (Naperville North) are just very fast," Siljendahl said. "We were pushing the ball also and got caught up in that a little and threw it away and lost it sometimes.
"Too many fouls the last quarter. We weren't moving our feet and getting in position, and we didn't get the ball in Zeitz's hands enough."
Zeitz finished with a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds) while sophomore point guard Alexis Wiggins also scored 14 points and had 5 assists and 2 steals.
"She (Wiggins) played her heart out today," Siljendahl said.
Follow John Lemon on Twitter @jlemonDH