NSW Awards // Top Ten Plays // Season 13

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We have our Top Ten plays from season 13 plus a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut, presented by Innovative Dental Partners. 

The Countdown

  1. Naperville North libero Carly Richards one handed dig leads to kill at Plainfield North

Our first honorable mention comes from Naperville North girls volleyball. In the regional championship against Plainfield North, the Huskies battled and took the first set thanks to this diving one-armed dig from libero Carly Richards. Somehow it turns into the perfect setup for a kill from Kara Oxenknecht. Naperville North did eventually fall in three sets, but clearly not due to lack of effort.

  1. Waubonsie Valley’s Grace Setter hits game winning layup in Regional Semifinals at Plainfield North

If you followed our coverage throughout the year, you may have noticed we had at ton of basketball buzzer beaters in Season 13. The first one to appear on this list was the most recent example and the only one to happen in a post season game. With the regional semifinal against Plainfield North tied at 58, Waubonsie Valley’s Lauren McKnight drives the court and finds Grace Setter under the hoop for the game winner as time expires. Redemption for Setter who missed a similar shot in the regional final the previous season.

  1. Naperville Central guard Kyle Baskin buzzer beating three against Naperville North

The stakes are always high when Naperville Central and Naperville North meet up. The Redhawks boys basketball team was looking for the season sweep of the Huskies in early February. After Riley Thompson tied the game at 45 for North in the final 30 seconds, Central looked to win it in regulation. After drawing the double team, Cam Dougherty finds Kyle Baskin who launches the high arching three in the knick of time, burying the game winner for the Redhawks. Central sweeps North for the first time in over a decade.

  1. Benet Football Nick Bafia juggling interception against Marian Catholic

In a late September matchup against Marian Catholic, Benet Academy defensive back Nick Bafia set the tone early with a tumbling, juggling and eventually one-handed interception. The junior’s acrobatic play helped BA to a 23-point victory.

  1. CJ Cirko overtime 5-hole winning goal vs Neuqua Valley in Carillon Cup

The Warriors Hockey Club have had so many memorable wins and goals in recent years, but one of the niftiest of the past season came from senior CJ Cirko. In overtime of the 2nd annual Carillon Cup tournament, the Cirko steals the puck, shows off the stick work and puts the game winner through the five hole. Warriors win the Cup for the 2nd year in a row over rival Neuqua Valley.

  1. Ben Schwieger reverse alley-oop dunk at Naperville North

You know it’s a good list when a play like this barely cracks the Top Ten Plays. After losing four starters to graduation a year ago, Ben Schwieger stepped into the starting lineup and immediately began to turn heads. His high flying athleticsm is a huge reason why and in a December road matchup against Naperville North, the WV junior unleashed a reverse ally oop of the pass from Adri Malushi. We don’t see ally oops too often let alone a reverse. We’ll be eagerly awaiting more like this in Schwieger’s senior season.

  1. Meredith Olef 800 series for Metea Valley girls bowling

Metea Valley girls bowling had a historic season, qualifying for the state meet for the 2nd time in program history. On January 7th of this year, Meredith Olef had herself a historic afternoon. The junior was absolutely on fire, starting her day with a turkey in game one. Rolling 10 strikes in a row in game 2 en route to an incredible 810 series. A new school record and a new district record both fell like so many pins on that chilly afternoon.

  1. Naperville Central Emma Lim chip in from sand

Golf always has the potential for the spectacular and we got that this fall from Naperville Central’s number one, Emma Lim. On the 8th hole at Naperbrook, the senior somehow sinks this shot from the sand as it rolls in for a birdie. Lim capped off a great senior season with a 10th place finish at state, even leading the tournament early in the 2nd day.

  1. Rachel Stege four 1st place medals in 1 day at IHSA State Swim meet

At the state girls swim and dive meet in November, Neuqua Valley swimmer Rachel Stege had about as perfect a performance as you could possibly have at a swim meet. Four races, four first place medals. A part of the state champion 200 and 400 free relays and the individual champion in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. Oh, and the Wildcats won their 2nd straight state title as well. Not bad for a day’s work.

  1. Marcus Skeete step back three to beat Naperville Central

We had so many buzzer beating shots this year, so when separating the plays you have to factor in the difficulty of the shot and the stakes of the game. With 2nd place in the DVC on the line and the game tied at 45. Waubonsie Valley’s Marcus Skeete hit a fade away step back three off the glass to stun Naperville Central. One of many plays that secured DVC Player of the Year award and an All-State selection for the Warriors senior.

  1. Benet Kyla Kenney diving dig in State Championship match

Benet Academy made it back to the state championship for the first time since 2014 this fall. The Redwings were completely locked in during the final against Wheaton Warrenville South. BA wasn’t going to take any point for granted as Kyla Kenny lays out for an incredible one-handed dig, leading to a point for Benet. Even teammate Hattie Monson can’t believe Kenny got to that ball. The Redwings closed things out for the two set win and the 2019 3A state championship.

  1. Matt Maschmeier three return TD’s vs Waubonsie Valley

Sometimes it’s not one specific play that gets you on this countdown, it’s a whole series of them. For Naperville North football player Matt Maschmeier, that was the case when the Huskies took on Waubonsie Valley in September. The DVC Co-Player of the Year was literally all over the place. In the first quarter, it was a 98 yard kickoff return to put his team on the scoreboard. Later in the first, the senior took the pass from Anthony Gabrione 80 yards to the house for his 2nd TD. With less than 5 minutes to play and his team trailing, the All State selection gets his third touchdown of the game of 80 yards or more. The 90-yard pick six helped Naperville North pick up their first win of the season.

  1. Mark Gronowski to Garrett Stare vs East St Louis

One of the best games of the year had some of the best plays we saw all season long. With seconds remaining before halftime, Neuqua Valley trailed number 1 ranked East St Louis 28-21. Quarterback Mark Gronowski buys a little time and then heaves a dart into the back of the end zone where Garret Stare makes an incredible leaping catch to snare the ball while falling backwards. One of 5 touchdown passes in the game for Gronowski. An unforgettable play and performance despite the 50-48 loss.

  1. Connor Davis turnaround three to beat Waubonsie Valley

Marcus Skeete might not enjoy this buzzer beater quite as much. Earlier in the season, just seconds after Waubonsie Valley took a 52-50 lead with under four seconds left on a Carter Langendorf putback. But Neuqua Valley starting quarterback Mark Gronowski throws a strike to Connor Davis who takes one dribble, spins and sinks the game winning three at the buzzer as the Wildcat faithful storms the court. One of many shining moments for the regional champion Wildcats.

  1. Gabi Melby half court buzzer beater to defeat Waubonsie Valley

Our number one pick this year could easily be considered one of the greatest plays we’ve seen in 13 season of Naperville Sports Weekly. After Lauren McKnight hit a clutch three with less than three seconds remaining to put Waubonsie Valley girls basketball up by two over Naperville Central. Katlyn Allen inbounds the ball to junior Gabi Melby who takes two dribbles and heaves a half court shot that banks in to win the game. We’ve always known that Melby has unlimited range, but this is ridiculous. We’ve had buzzer beaters before and half court shots before, but a half court buzzer beater to win a game is about as good as it gets for our Top Ten Plays.

Check out other nominees for the Award Show within Naperville Sports Weekly.