Schaps' tap lifts Niles North past Hoffman Estates

On the first day of practice as a freshman, Niles North senior Olivia Schaps broke her finger.

Four years later, she broke the hearts of Hoffman Estates in Wednesday's nonconference girls basketball game in Skokie.

With 0.7 seconds on the clock and under her own basket, senior Carolyn Dwyer lobbed in a perfect inbounds pass over defenders to Schaps.

The four-year varsity starter calmly leapt in the air and tapped the ball toward the basket before her feet even touched the ground to hit the winning bucket in Niles North's stunning 54-53 triumph.

It was the first game-winning shot for the 5-foot-7 Schaps, who finished with a game-high 24 points, including 15 in the third quarter.

Schaps' career-high is 30 points in the Vikings' second game of the year, a 60-55 loss to Wheeling in overtime.

"Definitely the most exciting finish I've been in," Schaps said. "Perfect pass by Carolyn. And I just tapped it in before I landed on my feet because I knew there wasn't much time to get off a shot."

The Hawks (9-11) had the Vikings (12-8) on their feet from the get-go, breaking out to a 16-0 advantage.

"We've been in that situation (down double-digits) and come back a few times," said Niles North coach Dan Paxson. "We were down 15 or 16 to De La Salle in the second half and came back to win that game. That's the thing about this group - it never gives up."

Hoffman got up 52-51 with 50 seconds left when senior Mynk Richardson-Clerk made a perfect pass to junior Monraia Wilson, who was charging to the basket, caught the ball and converted the layup.

A free throw by Hoffman sophomore Tayler Williams made it 53-51 with 15.5 seconds left.

Schaps made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the deficit to 53-52 with 7.9 seconds left.

North's Gina Loy made a steal as Hoffman tried to inbounds the ball, and the Vikings missed a layup with three seconds left. In the scramble for the rebound, the ball went out of bounds and it was awarded to Niles North with 0.7 seconds left.

Niles North coach Daniel Paxson then drew up the final play.

"It was the second time in the game we ran it," Schaps said. "It didn't work the first time."

Hoffman's work in the first period led to one of its finest eight-minute sessions of the season.

The Hawks put 20 points on the board, including 6 points from senior Erin Hanson.

"Erin has been playing very well," said Hawks coach Koester. "She is really stepping up as a senior. We like her leadership."

Two of Hanson's buckets came off her own steals.

She finished with 12 points, second most for the Hawks behind Wilson's 18, of which 10 came in the final quarter.

Richardson-Clark and Williams each chipped in 7 points while teammate Jenny Nailor pitched in 5.

When North closed to within 28-27 in the third quarter, Kate Mongold had a big rebound layup to extend the lead to 30-28.

But back-to-back 3-pointer by Schaps, the second with 26 seconds left in the quarter, pulled the hosts into their first tie.

Schaps had all three of her 3-pointers in the third quarter.

"They kept coming underneath on screens," Schaps said. "And Pax (Paxson) always says that if I am open, shoot it."

The hosts, who also received 12 points from senior Stephanie Donado, got their first lead of the game when Alyssa Aragon made a big drive through the lane for a layup that made it 39-37 with 7:03 left in the game.

Hoffman regained the lead when Wilson hit a 3-pointer with 6:05 left to make it 42-41.

"I thought they were a good team," said Paxson, whose club is 2-2 in the Central Suburban North. "They are athletic and he (Koester) does a nice job with them."

"We just didn't close it out," Koester said. "We missed some free throws flown the stretch and turned the ball over a few times.

"We are playing hard but we have to be a little smarter with our decisions and more under control."

The Hawks swing back into action at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

"We've got to move forward and get ready for Conant," Koester said.

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