AURORA – The basketball was not supposed to wind up in the hands of Natalie Droeske, but the Aurora Central Catholic junior knew what to do with it when it did.
Droeske’s bucket as time expired gave the Chargers a 47-45 home victory over Rosary in a Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division clash.
The Royals tied the game with five seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Taylor Drozdowski.
ACC called timeout with four seconds left to set up a final play. Gabi Alfaro took the ball near half court and drove to the free-throw line before spotting Droeske alone under the basket.
“That’s not at all how we drew it up,” Droeske said. “It was designed to get to Gabi and she was supposed to take it in, but she dished it off. She‘s a great teammate and I actually made it, so I’m really happy.”
Although it was a shot from almost point-blank range, there were no givens on this night about making such a shot, as the two teams combined to misfire on nearly 100 shots.
The Chargers(11-10, 5-4) held a 51-48 edge in rebounding, with Droeske pulling down 15 to go along with 13 points. Droeske fought on the boards much of the night with Rosary’s 5-foot-9 junior forward Adrienne Winkel.
“Adrienne Winkel’s always a tough battle,” Droeske said. “We go back and forth, but it was pretty even tonight.”
Alex Horton, a 5-11 junior, was also a force on the glass for ACC, securing 18 rebounds. She scored 10 points, all in the first half, as the Chargers opened up a 29-22 lead.
The Royals (8-12, 4-5) scrambled throughout the second half to try to close that gap, but trailed by 9 with under four minutes to play. But a pair of baskets by Rachel Choice (14 points) sandwiched around a 3 by Drozdowski (12 points) pulled Rosary to within 43-42 with 30 seconds to play. After Kalie Soris sank a pair of free throws for ACC with 22 seconds left, Drozdowski hit her game-tying 3-pointer.
“We were real nervous,” Droeske said. “They always come back strong. We were kind of anticipating their surge toward the end.”
The victory avenged a 47-40 loss suffered by the Chargers at Rosary earlier in the season.
“It’s been awhile,” Droeske said. “It’s kind of overdue.”
Quincy Kellett scored 11 points and nabbed 12 rebounds for the Royals.