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Girls basketball: Katie Nolan, Yorkville win first regional since 2002

Foxes turn tables on Naperville Central with 18-0 second-half run

Published: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 7:27 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 7:29 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Steven Buyansky)
Steven Buyansky for Shaw Media Yorkville's Katie Nolan hold up the regional title plaque as she celebrates the Foxes win over Naperville Central in Thursday's Class 4A Joliet Central Regional final.
Caption
(Steven Buyansky)
Steven Buyansky for Shaw Media Yorkville's Katie Nolan (23) gets fouled while scoring a basket by Naperville Central's Mia Lakstigala (31) during Thursday's Class 4A Joliet Central Regional final.

Katie Nolan hung around the rim, waited for the ball and finished time and again.

It hardly mattered when a defender was hanging on her arm.

History beckoned. Nolan and the Foxes answered.

Nolan had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Lauren Daffenberg added 18 points and Yorkville used a huge second-half run to roll past Naperville Central 68-45 in Thursday's Class 4A Joliet Central Regional final.

It's Yorkville's first regional title in 15 years, and first since the IHSA expanded to four classes - for boys or girls basketball. The Foxes (26-2) also matched the program win record established by the 1981 sectional champions.

None of it was lost on Seton Hill recruit Nolan, a four-year varsity starter and the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

"I wanted to go out with a bang," Nolan said. "Our last regional was 2002. This feels amazing."

Nolan, sat a significant portion of the first half with two fouls, and Yorkville trailed 28-24 at the half. She was central to a stunning turnaround.

Nolan assisted Ellyse Trembley's basket, put back a miss and fed Lindsay Harrison for a high-low to get Yorkville out of a 32-24 hole. Another Nolan stickback basket tied it 32-32.

The Foxes were just getting started.

Daffenberg rolled in a runner for the lead, and Nolan muscled in two scores. By the time Daffenberg sunk a baseline jumper, it was an 18-0 run.

Different half, and the Foxes were a whole different animal.

Yorkville's 44-17 second half even left the most seasoned of observers speechless.

"That was the biggest turnaround I've seen in a long, long time," said Andy Nussbaum, approaching 30 years as Naperville Central coach. "Nolan came to play in the second half. It's kind of pick your poison with that team."

Nolan, indeed, came to play - scoring 10 of her 20 in the third quarter. Nobody had an answer for her raw strength this week. She scored 27 on Wednesday against West Aurora, and had five of Yorkville's 11 offensive rebounds Thursday.

"How do you have an answer for it when she has a girl hanging on her arm, she throws it over her shoulder and it still goes in?" marveled Yorkville coach Kim Wensits said. "She's a special kid, and she really wants it. Especially as of late she's not going to let anything get in her way."

Daffenberg scored 13 of her 18 in the second half. Her contributions at the other end were just as significant.

Naperville Central star junior Mia Lakstigala, who has offers from Northern Illinois, Duquesne and Marist, scored nine points for the Redhawks (23-9) in the first half. But the 5-foot-11 guard got off just one shot in the decisive third quarter.

"We just said 'Get the ball out of her hands,'" Wensits said. "When the ball is in her hands it wasn't good for us. When she passed it, we didn't want her to get it back. Lauren did a phenomenal job."

Daffenberg didn't need a scouting report.

"I've played with (Lakstigala) on my travel team since seventh grade. I knew what I was getting into," said Daffenberg, a Hillsdale College commit. "She's an amazing athlete. You just have to keep on her and know she's going to get some."

Harrison, in just her second game back after missing four weeks because of sickness, added nine points and Audrey Macciomei eight.

The Foxes advance to Tuesday's sectional semifinal at East Aurora against two-time defending champion Benet.

Daffenberg, at least for now, was still soaking in this moment.

"I don't think it's hit me yet that we're going to be playing another game," Daffenberg said. "(Benet) is going to be really tough. We thought this game was tough, but they will be really tough."

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