2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/16/2017 11:13 PM

Tough second half dooms Naperville Central

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By Matt Le Cren
Daily Herald Correspondent

Yorkville didn't just turn the tables on Naperville Central on Thursday.

The Foxes pulled off the tablecloth, leaving the proverbial dishes, and Naperville Central's girls basketball regional championship hopes, shattered on the floor.

The Redhawks led 32-24 after Mia Lakstigala began the second half with a layup and teammate Maiah DeShazer followed with two free throws.

Incredibly, Lakstigala went over 10 minutes without getting another shot off and Yorkville embarked on an 18-0 run. The Foxes eventually ended the game with a 44-13 flourish and a 68-45 victory at the Class 4A Joliet Central regional final.

It is the first regional title since 2002 for Yorkville (26-2), which advanced to play Benet in Tuesday's East Aurora sectional semifinals.

"I thought we did a good job in the first half," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "At 32-24 I thought we were in good shape.

"It's a long time since I've seen a team turn the offensive tables like that from first half to second half. They got on a roll."

That was an understatement. The Foxes dominated at both ends of the court to turn what had been a tight game into an unexpected rout.

They did it by forcing the ball out of Lakstigala's hands, creating 9 turnovers in the decisive third quarter, and scoring nearly at will. The Foxes shot 18 for 32 in the second half while the Redhawks (23-9) went 6 for 31.

"In the fourth quarter they were making baskets that had no right of going in and we had basket that are rimming around and not going in," Nussbaum said. "We didn't handle it very well at all."

That began in the third quarter, when Yorkville's Lauren Daffenberg started erasing fellow junior Lakstigala, who scored only 3 of her team-high 14 points in the final 15 minutes.

"We just said get the ball out of her hands," Yorkville coach Kim Wensits said. "If it's in her hands, it's not good for us, and Lauren guarded her almost the entire game and did a phenomenal job.

"That was our game plan we were supposed to have from the beginning, but we didn't execute it too well in the first half. The second half we did a much better job.

"We said on the inbounds we wanted to double-team her, don't let get it. When she passes, don't let it come back, and they executed that to a 'T' in the second half."

Daffenberg did have one advantage most defenders do not against Lakstigala.

"I've actually played with her since seventh grade on my travel team, so I knew exactly what I was (facing)," Daffenberg said. "It's so tough.

"She's an amazing athlete and to keep up with her is very hard. We knew we had to limit her touches."

Katie Nolan had a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds for Yorkville, while Daffenberg added 18 points. DeShazer and senior Erin Moran tallied 12 points each for the Redhawks.

"It was a tough way to end," Moran said. "What made (the season) special was the people.

"I've never been a part of such a team that got along so well.

"Even though we had some tough losses out of the nine, we did have some key wins that we should think is the best of our season. We can't think about the negatives."

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