Nwogu, Huntley knock off Hampshire in FVC tournament
Almost everything was falling for Huntley's Kamsi Nwogu against Hampshire.
After hitting three of her first four shots, the senior forward made seven consecutive field goals stretching from the second to fourth quarters.
Two of those field goals came from behind the arc, and the 5-foot-11 Nwogu finished with 23 points and 9 rebounds to lead the No. 2-seeded Red Raiders past the No. 10-seeded Whip-Purs, 53-37, in their Fox Valley Conference Tournament girls basketball quarterfinal on Monday.
Huntley hosts No. 6-seeded Dundee-Crown in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and top-seeded Burlington Central and No. 5-seeded Prairie Ridge will play in Wednesday's other semifinal at Burlington. Hampshire (2-9) will face No. 3-seeded Cary-Grove in the consolation bracket.
Nwogu was 10 of 14 from the field. Her second 3 near the start of the fourth quarter was her seventh straight made field goal and pushed Huntley's lead to 46-24. A Francesca Romano 3 on the next possession gave the Raiders their biggest lead of the game at 25 points.
Nwogu had the Whip-Purs off balance most of the night.
"I didn't know that I made seven straight," Nwogu said. "My teammates were refusing and curling cuts, which was helping me get open. I would either have the open shot or a drive and I think we had good ball movement and spacing, which really helped."
Huntley coach Steve Raethz said Nwogu has made big strides in a shortened season.
"She has just really had a solid season for us," Raethz said. "You know what you're going to get out of her offensively, but I think defensively she's improved a lot this year. She's really taken the challenge to guard people, and obviously she did a great job tonight guarding [Hampshire's Kelby] Bannerman."
Nwogu and junior forward Jori Heard were tasked with guarding the 6-foot-1 Bannerman, a Davidson commit, and held her to 7 points. Bannerman, who was playing in her third game back from a high ankle sprain that wiped out the majority of her senior season, still came down with 9 rebounds and made 2 blocks.
Hampshire coach Eric Samuelson said that his team relied on Bannerman too much Monday.
In the Whips' past two games (two wins against Crystal Lake South), he felt like the Whips played more as a team.
"I felt like they were playing chess and we were playing checkers," Samuelson said. "I've been really proud with my team this year. We haven't had had Kelby all year, which that actually made us better, because they learned how to play a little bit. And I felt tonight, they kind of gave her the ball and sat back and watched again."
In the teams' first meeting of the season, Huntley went down early in an eventual 62-43 win. The Raiders worked hard not to repeat a slow start.
"I think it started with the energy on the bench," said senior guard Ashley Guazzo, who finished with 6 points on two 3s, adding 3 steals and 2 assists. "We came out this time ready to go. We just didn't come ready to play, and I think that kind of motivated us tonight."
Raethz praised Guazzo for her hard work and hustle.
"Ashley has been like that for us all year," Raethz said. "She does so many things, adds so many intangibles to our team. She hit two big 3s, she does a good job coming up with loose balls; she's a really good defender for us and a great teammate.
"They're a great group of kids. In the short five weeks that we've had this season, it's been really fun to watch them grow and improve. Hopefully we can continue that for two more games in the tournament."
Sophomore Carley Faulkner scored 9 points, and Jessie Ozzauto added 5 for Huntley. For Hampshire, Ceili Ramirez and Lia Saunders had 8 points apiece. Jessie Dumoulin tossed in 5 points.