At least Wheaton North proved it could take Proviso East's best shot.
The Falcons hung tough to the end, finally falling 54-49 Thursday night at the Class 4A Glenbard West regional final.
"They've only lost two times for a reason," Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said of the 28-2 Pirates. "We got beat by them by (17) points the first time, and our kids knew that and they were ready to go. I thought our kids came out and played their game. Proviso's a fantastic team. A lot of people didn't give us a chance and our kids knew that going into the game."
The Pirates tried to run the Falcons out of the gym, but it didn't work. The Falcons trailed only 28-22 at halftime, and things were looking good for them when Illinois-bound guard Ivory Crawford headed to the bench with her fourth foul late in the third quarter and the Pirates leading by 4.
"I was thinking we could really attack these people," Falcons guard Fantasia Vine said.
But after the Falcons cut the lead to 2, it was the Pirates who attacked. A Riciquia Jones 3-pointer gave Proviso East a 41-36 lead after three quarters, and after Jones drove the lane against Wheaton North's 2-3 zone and dished to Jakeisha Wells a few times for easy layups, the lead was 11 with 4:51 to play and Crawford about to return.
"When we've been in a situation where Ivory had to sit on the bench with fouls, other girls have stepped up," Pirates coach Ezra PridGeon said. "That's why we're a good team."
Vine's 3-pointer from well behind the arc cut the lead to 7 with 1:18 to go, and after a Crawford free throw Sydney Sharkey's 3 made the score 54-49. The Falcons could get no closer.
"A couple of free throws go down, a box out here, a box out there, they don't hit a bucket, whatever, it's a completely different game," Eaton said. "But I thought our kids battled all night long. I'm extremely proud of them. I thought they handled their pressure well. We knew they were going to come out and pressure us. They tried to dictate the tone, and I thought our kids stepped up and controlled the tempo the way they wanted to play."
Proviso East also had a big edge in second-chance points, thanks to a 32-18 rebounding advantage.
"They're just so big. I mean, they're just so big," Eaton said. "They're so big, they're so fast. If you match up in a man, they'll just go by and get some easy buckets. If you play zone they hit the high post because they can just lob it in over our guards and they look high-low."
Crawford finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Wells added 18 points and Jones 10.
Vine, who will play at Bradley next season, finished with 19 points, Sharkey had 9 and Maddie Baillie and Mandy Traversa 8 apiece.