Waubonsie Valley girls open DuPage Valley Conference play by topping Naperville Central in OT
You can't change a culture overnight, but with enough nights like the Waubonsie Valley girls experienced on Thursday, you can surely make strides.
The Warriors opened DuPage Valley Conference play with a 60-56 overtime defeat of visiting Naperville Central to improve to 5-1 on the year.
It was the type of game the Warriors have come up on the short end way too often in recent seasons.
But this group of players, which features some gritty veterans and some talented newcomers, is looking to return the program to its glory days of years gone by.
Freshman Danyella Mporokoso scored four of her game-high 27 points in the extra session and senior guard Taylor Curry knocked down three of four free throws as the hosts outscored the Redhawks 7-3 in overtime.
"This is a team that beat Benet and in the past we've been on the losing end more times than not against Naperville Central," Warriors coach Brett Love said.
"Danyella really showed up tonight and shot the ball a lot better than she has the last couple games, and Taylor always gets herself in position to draw fouls and make those shots.
"We've been trying to change the culture and we've been talking about work ethic, commitment and discipline, but now we've also got more talent."
For much of the game it appeared as if it was a battle between the two teams' star freshmen, as Mporokoso did her best to play well in front of Naperville Central standout freshman Trinity Jones, who led her team with 23 points.
"I felt a little pressure since this was my first conference game and I knew that she (Jones) was a really good player," said Mporokoso, who led all scorers with 13 points in the first half on her way to the career-high 27. "Once my shots started to fall, I got more confidence which was a nice change from the last couple games."
The Redhawks (2-4, 0-1) led 27-25 at the half and later 51-47 with 2 minutes left in regulation, but couldn't close out the Warriors, who sent the contest to overtime after a Curry basket and a pair of free throws by their talented freshman late.
"We had our chances to begin to put the game away and missed out on those chances," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "Danyella played real well and probably shot the ball the best she has so far for them, but it wasn't just her. Curry is a great player and (Khaliah) Reid is real good, and Lily Newton made some big plays for them."
Reid, a transfer from Metea Valley, scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Warriors took a 43-41 lead into the fourth. Newton finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
"We definitely had opportunities to win this one," said Jones, who had 14 points and 3 steals to go with her 23 points. "We just have to play with a little more passion at times."