At 6-foot-4 Diamond Thompson always possesses the potential to be a difference-maker. Transitioning to a new school surely makes it more difficult.
Needed now more than ever, she's responding.
Playing perhaps her best game since transferring to Wheaton Warrenville South, Thompson had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots, and the No. 3 Tigers dominated the second half in beating No. 18 Geneva 58-47 in Thursday's semifinal of the Naperville North/Benet Holiday Tournament.
"I just came out ready to play; we've been preparing all week, getting ready for this game," said the Notre Dame-bound Thompson, who played her first three years at Montini. "Players have to step up since we lost players. I think everybody's stepping up even more to make up for their loss."
WW South (12-2), which won its 11th straight, seems determined to make Thompson a focal point offensively since losing Maggie Dansdill to a knee injury. Thompson had a handful of blocks last Friday against Glenbard West and scored a season-high 14 points Tuesday at St. Charles North.
"It's progress," WW South coach Rob Kroehnke said. "Like I said at the beginning of the year, she improves every day. We need her, we need her presence both offensively and defensively. Defensively, it's huge what she's doing for us. If she does this offensively it will make life easier for everyone else. Consistency with her, that's what we're looking for."
Thompson's biggest impact will always come at the defensive end.
In addition to the 6 blocks, Thompson altered a few others. Most important, she helped limit Geneva post Sami Pawlak to 2 points until the final minute of the game when Thompson had checked out.
"I've played against Sami a lot in the summer," Thompson said, "and I know her moves. I just tried to stay aggressive, keep a hand in her face."
"That's the best I've seen her play, I'll be honest," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said of Thompson. "We can't shoot over her. We can make a move on her, but we decided to try to shoot over her. That's not too smart."
WW South, already down two players, got a scare in the first quarter when Meghan Waldron was hit in the mouth and had to leave the game and the bench. Waldron returned to start the second period, though, then came alive with 14 of her 20 points in the second half.
Waldron's follow shot to end the first half tied it at 25-25, she started the second half with a transition basket and then hit a 3-pointer. Olivia Linebarger scored 6 of her 13 points in the quarter for the Tigers, who outscored Geneva 20-6 in the third quarter, turned the ball over just once in the second half and eventually opened a 52-33 bulge.
Abby Novak had 16 points and 7 rebounds and Morgan Seberger 8 points for Geneva (9-7).
Meadows would love another shot at WW South in the playoffs but knows a dryspell like Thursday's third quarter won't work. It isn't anything new, either. Geneva went through a rough third quarter in blowing a 16-point lead against St. Charles East and a tough fourth quarter in a loss to Streamwood last week.
"We can't have quarters like that when we're playing Wheaton South, or any good team for that matter," Meadows said. "We've preached for days -- we can't have letdowns and the third quarter was a huge letdown."
Sierra Bisso scored 11 points for WW South, which advances to play DeKalb in Friday's championship game.