Naperville Central resumes DVC play with win at Metea Valley
Naperville Central is ready to focus on DuPage Valley Conference girls basketball play.
"We've played so many tournaments and we've played so many teams all across Illinois, and it feels good to finally be playing in the DVC," Redhawks senior Emily Spisak said. "It's just good to get a good start to the DVC. It's our goal to win it."
The Redhawks have nothing but DVC games remaining on their regular-season schedule, a stretch of nine straight games that began with Tuesday's 46-43 victory at Metea Valley.
The Redhawks have momentum on their side. They have won six of its last seven games.
Naperville Central (14-9, 1-1) did just enough to win at Metea Valley (7-8, 1-2). In a game with 10 lead changes and four ties, Naperville Central took the lead for good with 5:44 to play on a Gabi Melby 3-pointer that made the score 43-41.
"I would say that we weren't really making our shots like we normally do, so we had to resort to different types of ways of scoring like driving to the basket, which we did start doing in the second half," Spisak said.
Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum credited the Metea Valley defense for the Redhawks' shooting struggles.
"They defensively were very good. I was very impressed," he said, noting the Mustangs' height and quickness.
"We have to play 'D,'" Metea Valley coach Keith McIntosh added. "We're still learning what hard means, but we think from opening tip to the end of the game, we're trying to be committed to defense."
A Spisak putback made it 45-41 with 2:24 to go, but Metea Valley junior Amelia Szczesny cut the Redhawks lead to 2 with 31.7 seconds to go. But the Mustangs couldn't score again.
"We've had pretty close games this season, and it's just about containing our energy and doing well under pressure. I think we work on that a lot during practice, just staying calm in chaotic situations," Spisak said.
The Mustangs lost more than just the game, however. Senior point guard Serenity McDaniel suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and could miss significant time, McIntosh said. Another point guard, Nazuri Whigham, had season-ending knee surgery.
"We're down to a freshman point guard," he said of Khalia Reid.
Senior Katlyn Allen and Melby led the Redhawks with 11 points apiece, with Allen adding 9 rebounds and 3 fourth-quarter steals. Spisak scored 10, and senior Lauren Umbright had 8 points, 10 rebounds and 6 steals.
Jada Samuels' 8 points led Metea Valley, which had eight players score.