Gabrielle Rush witnessed many of Hinsdale Central's 26 losses last season watching older sister Christine.
Now Gabrielle's on the court, and it's a new year.
Freshman guard Rush scored 29 points in her high school debut, including the 3-pointer that gave her team the lead for good, and Hinsdale Central knocked off Naperville Central 63-56 on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams in Hinsdale.
"Our team has been working so hard in practice trying to get back from a rough season," Rush said. "Naperville Central's a very good team, but we played hard."
Naperville Central's loss denied Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum his 500th career win, 22 years to the day after his first win.
He was quick to give credit why.
"That kid is pretty good," Nussbaum said. "One of our kids has played against her and said she could hit 3s. I don't think I knew she was that good, but I knew she was good."
Rush, who grabbed 11 rebounds, also made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2:04 to stem any Naperville Central comeback hopes. Sophomore Maddie Roglich added 17 points. Those young guards, which include injured freshman Sydney Griffin, are a big reason why veteran coach Tom McKenna is feeling good about his second year in Hinsdale.
"I knew this summer we'd be a lot better," McKenna said. "I didn't necessarily know we could beat someone like that."
Jill D'Amico scored 15 points and Emma Donahue 11 for Naperville Central, which returns four starters off a 24-win team and led 48-42 after three quarters. Drake recruit Donahue, though, attempted just 6 field goals. That didn't sit well with her coach.
"We didn't give Emma Donahue the ball enough," Nussbaum said. "We were talking about it, but talk is cheap."
Hinsdale Central, which set a program record for losses last year, shot out of the gate Tuesday. The Red Devils led 16-6 after a quarter, and it was 19-10 two minutes into the second after a Rush score. Naperville Central seemed to gather itself from there, going on a 19-2 run to take its biggest lead at 29-21 on a Sarah Lang 3-pointer.
A Victoria Trowbridge basket with 6:01 left in the game nudged the Redhawks ahead 50-46, but Rush drained a top-of-the-key 3 for a 51-50 lead with 3:32 left. The Red Devils never trailed again. Rush's late foul shots were a big reason why.
"I practice free throws so much," Rush said. "My dad always shoots outside with me and puts pressure on me. I'm used to it by now."