Looking back: Classic finish to Naperville Central-Naperville North 2018 regional game
Editor's note: Below is an edited version of Naperville Central's 2018 regional champpionship girls basketball win over Naperville North.
By Orrin Schwarz
The way Naperville North and Naperville Central were playing in their 2018 Class 4A girls basketball regional final, you wanted the game to go on all night.
It almost did.
Senior Mia Lakstigala's basket with nine seconds to play broke the final tie of the night, giving the Redhawks a 65-63 triple-overtime victory against their crosstown rivals and their first regional championship since 2013.
"The game felt like it was going on for like five hours maybe," Lakstigala said. "It was back and forth. We never had a lead for probably more than two minutes.
"It's such a relief now looking on it, but looking back at it that was probably one of the craziest games I've every played in," Lakstigala added. "Especially going against Naperville North. We were really pumped and they were obviously really pumped. It was a super-close game and I think both teams played really well."
In the fourth quarter the Huskies took a 51-50 lead when freshman Greta Kampschroeder made a pair of free throws with 47.8 seconds to play. Lakstigala, a Penn recruit, tied the game with a free throw of her own with 38.1 seconds to go, and the game went to overtime.
Again the Huskies (16-12) looked like they might pull out the victory, taking a 54-52 lead with 1:56 to go on a Kampschroeder 3-pointer, one of six she made. Then Naperville Central sophomore reserve Katlyn Allen stepped up and sank a pair of free throws with 32.0 seconds to go to send the game to a second overtime.
This time it was the Huskies' turn to come from behind. The second-seeded Redhawks (27-5) looked like they would pull away when they took a 60-54 lead with 1:27 left on two Lakstigala free throws. But Kampschroeder hit a 3-pointer with 1:19 left and another 3 with 46 seconds to go, and the teams went to a third overtime.
"I think we showed that we can hang with anybody," said Huskies coach Jason Dycus, whose team turned around its season in the middle of January when it came back from a 20-point deficit to nearly upset No. 1-ranked Montini. "I mean, we hung with Montini, we hung with Naperville Central."
Freshman Gabi Melby's 3-pointer with 1:56 left in the third overtime put the Redhawks ahead 63-62, but Lauren Platou tied the game with a free throw at the 1:25 mark.
The Redhawks held for the last shot, and not surprisingly Lakstigala took it, driving down the right side of the lane and banking a runner high off the backboard as she went by. She called it a "clear-out play."
A last-chance Naperville North 3-pointer hit the front of the rim and bounced away.
"I was just trying to scramble for the ball and I didn't even realize that the buzzer went off and I saw everyone jumping and I was just like, oh, my god, we won," the Redhawks' Lucy Schmid said. "It just went in my head and I'm just so excited. I'm so happy."
With Platou guarding Lakstigala relentlessly when the Redhawks had the basketball in man-to-man and box-and-1 defenses, Schmid stepped in to score 27 points and grab 12 rebounds. Lakstigala added 13 points.
Like Schmid, Kampschroeder finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Huskies sophomore guard Nikki Kwilosz added 15 points.
"I tell you what, Kampschroeder was absolutely unbelievable," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said. "And listen, we were trying to keep her from scoring. You know what I'm saying? I mean, we were trying. I thought late in the fourth quarter we kind of had it maybe figured out. But then in the overtime, it was like, oh my goodness, where did that come from?"