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Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton has said for some time now that he believes senior Mandy Traversa is the best shooter in the state. He may not be alone in his assessment after Thursday's game.
The Falcons senior connected on a personal-best eight 3-pointers in powering third-seeded Wheaton North to a 62-42 defeat of No. 7 Hersey in quarterfinal action at the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic in Wheaton. Traversa scored a game-high 24 points without attempting a single free throw or 2-point shot.
"I told Mandy a long time ago, 'You're the best shooter in the state of Illinois,' " Eaton said, after Traversa's hot shooting landed the 10-3 Falcons in Friday's semifinals against Glenbard South. "I've seen her shoot like that in practice all the time, so it doesn't surprise me."
It surprised Hersey coach Mary Fendley a bit, even though her Huskies were well aware of Traversa's prowess and did their best to try and glue a defender to her at all times.
"I don't think most kids can make 8 of 10 (3s) unguarded," Fendley said. "What an impressive effort by her."
For much of the first quarter, Hersey (8-6) did a fine job controlling the Falcons' offense. After Traversa hit a long jumper in the opening minute, the hosts went six minutes without another field goal and trailed 9-4 before another Traversa 3 late was followed by a steal and a buzzer-beating short jump shot by Chrissy Baird to tie the game at 9 after one quarter.
Traversa then went 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the second quarter and had 18 points at the half as the Falcons led 28-15. She connected from both corners and even tossed in a couple bombs up top that may have been NBA 3-pointers.
"I think my top was five in a game ever," she said when asked about her most 3s prior to Thursday's game. "Obviously today … some of them I don't even know how they went in. I was feeling good and they just kept going in."
Two more long-range shots went down in the third quarter and Traversa had 24 points as the Falcons led 49-33 and were well on their way to knocking off a Huskies squad that had beaten them twice in recent years at this tournament, including a double-overtime contest the last time Wheaton North reached the semifinals.
Baird had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Falcons and Reilly Stewart and Brooke Schanowski each added 7 points. For Hersey, which was hurt when point guard Casey Weyhrich suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter, Morgan Harris scored 16 points in the second half to finish with 19, while Meg Cerniglia had 6 points and 4 assists.
"We worked real hard against a good team and there's no shame in that loss," Fendley said. "We hope to bounce back tomorrow with a better effort against Willowbrook."
Traversa is hoping to keep her hot hand as Wheaton North attempts to win its own tourney.
"Once you have that feeling of everything going in you just shoot it and you know right away from the release that it's in too," she explained. "It's an awesome feeling for a shooter. Our goal now is to win this thing."