Naperville Central senior Shannon Ryan didn't score until the third quarter of Thursday's girls basketball game against cross-town rival Naperville North. She was just saving her points for a more dramatic moment.
With 8.0 seconds left in a tied game, Ryan drove the lane and sent a scoop shot up toward the rim while she was fouled. Her shot rolled around the rim before dropping through the net, giving the host Redhawks a come-from-behind 44-41 victory.
"It feels good," Ryan said after converting the three-point play for the senior-night win. "It definitely feels good, especially with the last game on the home court. We wanted to come out with a win and so we left it all out on the court."
"When you lose to your archrival, it hurts," Huskies coach Jason Dycus said, noting the Huskies' 2-point loss to the Redhawks earlier in the season. "The girls, obviously -- just like (the Redhawks) -- they want to win both of those games. That's a marked game on the schedule. I think we're capable of doing it. We just didn't make enough big plays at the right time when we needed to do it."
Naperville North (17-10, 8-6 DuPage Valley Conference) started quickly, taking an 11-1 lead in the first quarter on junior Caleigh Corbett's steal and layup. The margin peaked at 14 points in the first half.
But the momentum slowly started turning the Redhawks' direction just before halftime, and
Naperville Central cut the lead to 31-30 on junior Emily Kraft's third 3-pointer of the third quarter.
Naperville North surged ahead again, but Ryan's basket with 3:14 to play in the fourth gave Naperville Central its first lead since 1-0 at 39-38.
Cece Pope's basket with a minute to go tied the game at 41, and Naperville Central let time tick away until Ryan's game-winner, which she didn't know went in until she heard the crowd cheer while she was on the ground.
"It was kind of natural," Ryan said of her shot. "At the last second I thought I should have passed it to Katie (Moran), but it was in the heat of the moment. I knew I could take (the defender) and there was a little gap between them and so I kind of went for it."
"She's tough to guard," Dycus said. "That's for sure."
The victory sends Naperville Central (12-17, 7-7) into the playoffs having won eight of their last 12 games. Their record against the Huskies is even more impressive: 28-3 since 2000.
"Naperville North is a good team this year, so I'm real pleased to beat a team like that twice," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said. "I think that shows how much better we're playing."
Haley Minick led Naperville Central with 11 points, and Ryan finished with 10. Kayla Sharples had a game-best 15 points and 9 rebounds for Naperville North..