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Glenbard East was looking for a sign. It came Thursday night in Naperville.
The Rams won their first DuPage Valley Conference girls basketball game in two years, defeating Naperville Central 49-40 and giving the young Rams evidence their program is improving before they leave the conference at the end of the school year.
"It's definitely been a long time coming," said second-year Glenbard East coach Don Finnie, noting the girls didn't know how to act in the locker room after the win. "It's really nice for the girls."
"It feels awesome," junior Allison Hansen added. "We've been working really hard in practice to finally get the end result that we want."
Finnie sees the victory as one the players can build on.
"The kids are enjoying practice, the kids are enjoying playing the game, and that's the whole thing," Finnie said. "If you get them to buy into the system and buy into what we're trying to do as a team, it helps. We're a young team. We've only got two seniors. ... It's a building process. And my sophomore team is real good too. We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's nice to see."
The Rams (2-6, 1-3) jumped out to a 7-0 lead while Naperville Central missed its first eight shots of the game. Naperville Central pulled within a point twice late in the first half, but both times the Rams answered.
"We talked about that at halftime, about committing to refocusing and only control what you can control," Finnie said. "That's what we've been saying for the last month. Not too much about what we have to redo or offense or defense, just focusing about what we can control on the court."
"We just looked to each other to stay focused and looked for each other to build each other up and help each other out," Hansen added.
Meanwhile, the Redhawks (2-6, 1-2) continued to struggle with their shooting, finishing 14 of 51 from the floor, 6 of 13 at the free-throw line.
"I can't remember a game where we shot as poorly as we shot," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "We just didn't play very well. Give them credit, they took advantage. Of the two teams they were the more composed. They knew what they wanted to accomplish."
Leading 22-19 at halftime, the Rams scored the first 6 points of the third quarter and later pushed the lead to double digits for the first time when Hansen scored at the end of the period. The Rams' lead peaked at 13 points, though the Redhawks cut it to 6 with just more than two minutes to play.
Sophomore Brasia Solid led the way for the Rams, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Hansen added 15 points and 6 rebounds.
"She's finally starting to show what I know she can do," Finnie said of Solid. "She played great. Hansen also played awesome."
"She looked good. She looked very good. She took the ball to the basket," Nussbaum added about Solid. "They were pretty impressive. We knew Hansen played well on Tuesday night, and I thought she played well again."
Junior guard Emily Kraft came off the bench to lead the Redhawks with 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz