Naperville Central upsets Plainfield East for 1st regional title in 5 years
The Naperville Central girls basketball team welcomed back, after a five-year absence, a regional championship thanks to a 71-63 victory on their home court over Plainfield East on Thursday night.
"It's a great feeling. I am so proud of this team," said Redhawks senior Megan Norkett. "It's incredible to see how far we've come in four years."
Central (23-10), a seventh seed in the Class 4A West Aurora sectional, heads there on Tuesday to face No. 6 Waubonsie Valley in semifinal play.
It was the third-seeded Bengals' show at the start. Plainfield East (22-7) led 23-12 after the first quarter.
"In every team sport, it's difficult to simulate in practice what the other team does," said Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum. "They (the Bengals) didn't do anything new. They just did it better. I told the team that it's a long game and to hang in there."
A basket early in the second quarter by Plainfield East's Jocelyn Trotter put the Bengals up 26-14. It would be the team's last double-digit advantage of the night.
Central proceeded to finish the quarter on a 16-4 run to make it a 30-all tie at halftime.
And in that run were four steals converted into layups by Redhawks sophomore Callie Tumilty, who finished with 19 points.
Teammate Trinity Jones, who scored a game-high 27 points, made good on a putback for the first bucket of the third quarter to make it 32-30. The Redhawks kept the lead for the rest of the night. Sixteen of her total points came in the second half.
"It was our mentality," she said of her team's surge. "If we wanted to win, we had to fight."
Lexi Sepulveda's free throw with 2:05 left and three free throws from Nia Wilkerson kept the game close, but didn't loosen Central's grip on the lead.
"This is so cool. It was our energy. We wanted it so badly," Tumilty said.