O'Shea, Glenbard West defend home floor vs. Naperville Central
Whether she's playing basketball or soccer, Glenbard West senior Katie O'Shea has a knack for finding the ball.
"I like (basketball) defense, which is different than most people. When we're going up and down in a practice. I really like that," said O'Shea, a center midfielder/forward in soccer.
"(In soccer) I'm up and down the whole time. It's just mental when you want to get the ball. I get ready to get the ball and I just go for it, I guess. It's just natural."
O'Shea had just one steal and basket in Saturday's 55-26 nonconference victory over visiting Naperville Central, and it was a big one.
She intercepted a pass from just beyond the top of the key and made the layup for the first basket in a 10-point first-half run that gave the Hilltoppers (8-2) separation at 13-4 with 3:01 until halftime.
Glenbard West senior Katelyn Heller had 14 points, followed by sophomore Maggie Stutelberg with 10 points and two 3s. Taylor Huff added 9 points and 6 rebounds.
O'Shea has started the last eight games as senior starter Jamiyah Thomas remains sidelined since surgery. O'Shea added 4 rebounds to remain among the team leaders in that area.
"(O'Shea) has that nose for the ball. She wants to go get it. A lot of rebounding is heart and desire and she plays that way defensively," Glenbard West coach Kristi Faulkner said.
"We always say she's a great help defender, so this game we asked to be a little more aggressive in the passing lanes. We can use her speed to our advantage, and she's tough."
Heller drove to the hoop repeatedly and effectively. Her four baskets led the Hilltoppers' 12-2 run that opened the second half to pull away 35-11. After three quarters Glenbard West led 46-15 with only 2 turnovers and allowing 3 offensive rebounds.
For Naperville Central (4-6), junior Kate Gilfillan had 8 points and junior Sara Opalka had 7 first-half rebounds.
The Redhawks were coming off a 70-49 loss Friday at rival Naperville North and still have four key players injured, including fourth-year varsity player Lucy Schmid, who is out for the season.
For their first basket Saturday the Redhawks possessed the ball nearly two minutes but later missed 6 shots and had 6 turnovers over 12 possessions during the 10-0 run.
After 10 3s Friday there were only 2 Saturday by starter Aditi Prasad and Grace Wenzel for their final baskets in the last 1:52.
"I give our girls credit executing something we didn't really practice," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said.
"We drew up what we thought was a game plan to win. In the first half we made maybe a few too many turnovers (10), didn't hit a 3 and I thought we had four good looks. Obviously, when you play a team as good as they are, you've got to be a little lucky and they got rolls we wanted to have."
The Hilltoppers won the West Suburban Silver last season and face the other two early front-runners for the first time this week at home against York on Tuesday and at Downers Grove North on Friday.
O'Shea is among several returning non-starters who have significantly improved.
"(Starting) caught me by surprise. I've always played basketball so it's just playing again, which is nice," O'Shea said. "Everyone's going in this year (to play). Getting everyone in makes everyone more hyped up. It makes our chemistry a lot better."
Injured Naperville Central sophomore Gabi Melby has yet to play but had the pins removed from her pinkie Dec. 3 and could return as soon as this weekend. Injured Lauren Umbright and Kaitlyn Allen, who played the previous three games but not Saturday, are day to day.
Nussbaum declined to make excuses.
"Even though we are short, we still need to do a better job of blocking out," Nussbaum said. "We didn't do the things we needed to do to win the game. We are learning things that we need to get better at. Regardless of who comes back to play, there are things we need to do better down the road to win games."