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Lily Newton lifts Waubonsie Valley above Benet


Every time Waubonsie Valley junior forward Lily Newton missed a layup this season, she heard from coach Brett Love.

The constant reminders have become the soundtrack to Newton’s season and continued before Thursday’s Class 4A Oswego Regional championship game.

“Oh, tell me about that,” Newton said. “Right before this, all I did for warm-ups was layups, layups, floaters in front of the basket.

“That was my Achilles heel all year and it cost us several times over.”

Not tonight.

In what he called a “full circle moment,” Newton scored on a layup with 2.3 seconds left in overtime to give the second-seeded Warriors a 63-61 win over fourth-seeded Benet.

The win was as exciting as it was historic for Waubonsie Valley (31-3), which broke the single-season school record and won its first and second sectional championship since Ashley Luke led the team to state. Quarter final in 1999.

sophomore guard Danielle Story The Warriors, who will face Alton (32-2) in the Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional in Bloomington on Monday at 19:00, recorded the highest number of points in 19 games. Senior guard Hannah Laub scored 15 points with a 3-pointer, sophomore guard Arianna Garcia had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, and Newton had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Waubonsie Valley’s Lily Newton (left) makes the game-winning shot in overtime in the Class 4A Oswego Regional championship game against Benet on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Troy Stolt/Naperville Sun)

senior guard Emilia Sularski Benet, who eliminated the Warriors from the play-offs in the last three seasons, made five three-pointers and finished the game with 17 points (24-7). first class guard Ava Mersinger He added 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.

“I told them: ‘I’m disappointed in you. I’m not disappointed in you,’” Kilbride said. “I’m incredibly proud of this group.

“It is a real honor for them to reach the regional championship with the work they have done and the unity they have developed.”

Waubonsie Valley was eventually able to get past the Redwings by overcoming a 28-19 deficit and seesawing through the fourth quarter.

“I thank them very much,” Kilbride said. “Boy, they made some great shots, and I thought they made some really tough shots.”

This included Mporokoso’s game-tying layup with 13 seconds left in regulation time. Benet young guard Aria Mazza He missed a hard shot from the left line with two seconds left and the match ended in a 59-59 draw.

After Mazza put Benet ahead with a 15-foot shot, Mporokoso tied the score with a layup with 34 seconds left. A turnover by Benet brought the ball back to Waubonsie Valley with 10.4 seconds left in the game.

Benet’s defense turned towards Mporokoso, who found Newton at the top of the key. This set up the toughest shot of the match.

“He was driving and had nothing to do, so he passed it on to me,” Newton said. “I had already made a few threes and was looking for the shot. “Then I saw (a defender) running towards me and I had nothing to do but go.”

Waubonsie Valley's Danyella Mporokoso (10) scores a layup in the Class 4A Oswego Regional championship game against Benet Academy on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.  (Troy Stolt for Naperville Sun)
Waubonsie Valley’s Danyella Mporokoso (10) shoots during the Class 4A Oswego Regional championship game against Benet on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Troy Stolt/Naperville Sun)

Laub, an Army commitmentHe watched Newton go and was sure he would score.

“Oh, yeah, I knew it was going to go in the minute he put it in,” Laub said. “He was attacking the basket the whole game and looked comfortable.”

This is a relatively new sentiment for Newton, who has embraced Love’s constructive criticism.

“Lily has been working on her layups all season,” Laub said. “The coach has been very harsh on him. Whenever he misses, he attacks him. But that’s why, because they can do these things in these moments.”

No one was happier than Love to see Newton sink the Redwings after failing to make a game-winning field goal.

“I told him that if there was ever a time to make a layup, this was the perfect opportunity, and he did it,” Love said. “I’m so proud of him.”

The Waubonsie Valley girls basketball team celebrates winning the Class 4A Oswego Regional championship game against Benet Academy on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.  (Troy Stolt for Naperville Sun)
Waubonsie Valley’s Hannah Laub (2) is surrounded by her teammates as she receives the Class 4A Oswego Regional championship plaque after defeating Benet on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Troy Stolt/Naperville Sun)

The teams combined to hit 14 three-pointers at halftime; nine of those came from the Warriors, who prevailed with what Love called their “desire to win.” Newton said that chemistry creates this will.

“I’ve never had a team like this that truly loves each other and wants the best for each other,” Newton said. “We know what we need to do to win”

The Warriors are one win away from winning their first state championship.

“This is amazing,” Laub said. “Everything is one step ahead. We’re one game away from state now, so we’re really looking forward to that.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter.


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