Stubblefield, Willowbrook knock off Naperville North
It took a while for Willowbrook's boys basketball team to find its spark Tuesday night.
More than two months, in fact.
Sophomore Everett Stubblefield III, promoted to varsity in late January, rallied the Warriors to a 47-43 victory over Naperville North in the Class 4A Glenbard East sectional semifinals.
Stubblefield scored 12 of his 16 points in the last four minutes of the third quarter -- and all 16 of his points in the second half -- with his team trailing by as much as 8 points. His 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Warriors a 30-27 lead after three quarters, a lead they carried to the end of the upset win.
"It was an amazing feeling," Stubblefield said. "When I hit the buzzer-beater I could feel the crowd and my teammates cheering me on. It was motivation. We just settled down as a team. We remained focused and played our game."
Fifth-seeded Willowbrook (26-5) struggled shooting until Stubblefield came off the bench and knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter. He eventually scored his team's final 12 points of the frame during a 12-1 run.
The Warriors pushed their own lead to 7 points throughout the fourth quarter, only to see top-seeded Naperville North (26-3) make it a 3-point game. Jack Hill scored to pull the Huskies within 45-43 with nine seconds left, but Stubblefield scored on a breakaway layup to end it.
Willowbrook will play Benet in Friday's final in search of the program's first sectional title.
"If we can beat a team like Naperville North, we really believe we can come out and beat any of these teams," said Warriors senior post Ethan Schuemer, who scored 8 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. "We're feeling great right now. We're already starting to focus on Friday's game."
Chris Johnson scored all 8 of his team's second-quarter points as Naperville North built a 20-12 halftime lead. He scored 12 points in his final high school game while junior Tom Welch led the Huskies with 17 points.
The Huskies were hounded by 6-of-14 free-throw shooting, including 1-of-7 fourth-quarter shooting from the line.
"I wish I could do something about crying eyes," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers, who is retiring at the end of the school year. "This team is a very, very close team. This one really hurts."
After not winning a regional title since 2004, Willowbrook appears to have all the momentum it needs heading into Friday's title game.
"All year the kids have been fighting," said Warriors coach Chris Perkins. "We've been down before and we knew we could speed the game up."
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