Naperville North edges West Aurora

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Naperville North used a late fourth-quarter surge to pull off a 52-48 DuPage Valley Conference girls basketball victory Thursday over host West Aurora.

Boasting a three-game win streak, the Huskies evened their season record at 12-12 while improving to 5-7 in league play as the Blackhawks continued to struggle since the loss of scoring and rebounding leader Elizabeth Skaggs, losing a sixth straight to dip to 9-14 and 4-9. The win enabled North to avenge a 73-68 loss earlier in the year to West Aurora.

With North standout Zoey Swift saddled with foul trouble and missing her usual shooting touch, the Huskies had a stellar game-high 16-point performance from freshman Cece Pope.

“This certainly was a breakout game for Cece, with Morganna (Freeman out with the flu) missing, we needed everyone to step up and I think that was the case, the whole team got better and played as a strong unit,” Naperville North coach Jacquie Discipio said. “I’ve been preaching that every player is important and that was evident. Jenny (Smith) had to run things with Zoey on the bench, but she showed what kind of competitor she is in the fourth quarter.”

Naperville North used an 11-0 spurt to break away from an early 5-5 draw en route to a 20-11 first-quarter lead that turned into a large lead of 13 points (24-11) early in the second frame. While the Huskies were still ahead at half, 25-21, the second quarter had West Aurora use a 10-2 surge followed by the first four points of the second half to pull even at 25-all.

Sporting a 33-31 edge heading into the final eight minutes, the host Blackhawks managed a pair of three-point leads – the last being 42-39 — before North ended the contest with a 13-6 effort for the win. The last three points came at the free throw line from Swift, who was scoreless through three quarters, but finished with six points.

“With the four fouls I had to be smart on defense, while I couldn’t be as aggressive as I’d like, we won and that’s all that really matters,” Swift added.

Kayla Sharples contributed 15 points to follow up Pope’s effort.

“I felt like we really needed a win to get ready for Central, while I was a little nervous earlier as a freshman playing varsity, things felt really good tonight,” Pope said.

West Aurora was led by 14 points apiece from Alex Wiggins and Abriya Zeitz.

“They’re very fast and we got outhustled at times,” West coach Connie Siljendahl said. “We got caught up in that at times. On the positive side, we held them to five points in the second quarter and we fought back well in the third quarter. We had too many fouls late and didn’t do too good of a job getting the ball to Zeitz.”

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