Waubonsie Valley upsets Naperville North in regional final
Move the ball and attack the basket.
That was Waubonsie Valley's plan for Thursday's 4A regional championship game at No. 2 seeded Naperville North. The Warriors did just enough of both to hold off the Huskies 50-45, claim their second straight regional title and advance to a sectional semifinal Tuesday at West Aurora against Naperville Central.
With Hannah Laub knocking down a trio of 3-pointers while scoring 11 points in the first half, the visitors took a 31-22 lead at the half against a Naperville North squad looking to win its fourth straight regional title. The Huskies never seemed to get quite on track offensively and Waubonsie Valley (23-7) countered with a strong defense and a balanced attack that featured a lot of Laub from the outside and plenty of senior guard Taylor Curry on the inside.
"Teams throw a lot of zones at us so we have to move the ball and attack the basket," said Curry, who finished with a team-high 15 points that pushed her past the 1,000-point career mark late in the contest. "We just played Nazareth and that's a state team. We know that we compete with teams like that and even though we lost that game, it gave us a boost."
With Laub, Curry and sophomore Lily Newton all making big contributions the Warriors were in control much of the night and led 36-25 in the third quarter following a 3 by Laub, who finished the game with 14 points and 6 rebounds. It was a 38-30 lead after three quarters but the Huskies did close to within 44-41 following a pair of free throws by Peyton Fenner with 1:58 left to play.
"We knew they were a great team and would make a run at us, but I think our last two games helped prepare us and we finished the game off," said Laub, noting that a win over these same Huskies and the battle with Nazareth in the final two games of the regular season seemed to pay off on Thursday. "I'm excited our season's not over and we get to play on."
Naperville North got in foul trouble early, struggled at the free-throw line, and just didn't seem to come away with as many loose balls as usual. Even so, with Abby Drendel knocking down a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter and Fenner also sinking a 3, the hosts battled to the final horn. Drendel scored a game-high 18, Homan added 11 and Newton chipped in with 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Warriors.
"I felt like we got shooken up a little early and they maybe got in our head a little," Huskies coach Erin Colletti said. "I'm sad for this group and sad for seniors like Abby who played her heart out tonight. Everything just seemed a step slow for us and tonight they were the better team."
The Huskies seniors had been a part of three straight conference crowns and three regional champions, but this year they came up just a little short as Neuqua Valley claimed the DuPage Valley title, and on Thursday the regional went to DVC rival Waubonsie Valley.
"Last week's games gave us confidence and we wanted to come here tonight to prove we could finish the job," Warriors coach Brett Love said. "That was probably one of Hannah's best shooting games ever. When she does that it opens up things for us inside and tonight we got the job done."