There were plenty long faces and even some tears Saturday night, but the Wheaton North girls basketball team did have a pretty impressive four days of tourney action, and coach Dave Eaton expects his players to continue to grow.
Looking to win its own Bill Neibch Falcon Classic for the first time since 1990, Wheaton North fell to top-seeded Glenbrook South 59-40 to settle for second place. The Titans, led by tourney MVP Molly McDonagh and her 21 points and 12 rebounds, used a stifling man-to-man defense to hold Falcons star Mandy Traversa to just 2 points.
Glenbrook South ditched its 1-3-1 zone defense in an effort to limit Traversa's perimeter game and it worked perfectly as the 6-foot-1 Teigan Flaws and her help defenders stymied Traversa, who was named all-tourney and had scored 38 points the previous two nights.
"They're so long defensively and tough to shoot over," Falcons coach Dave Eaton said. "They're the No. 1 seed for a reason. This is a learning experience and I'm just glad we were in the championship."
Wheaton North (12-4) fell behind 6-0 to start the game but fought back to lead 16-12 after one quarter and 22-20 at the half. Forward Chrissy Baird, who joined Traversa on the all-tourney team, scored 9 of herteam-high 15 points in the first half. With Traversa plagued by two early fouls and missing on all five of her 3-point attempts on the night, Baird took over as the Falcons' go-to scorer on Saturday.
"Mandy has carried our team with all the points she's scored this season," said Baird. "For me to be able to go inside and help my team tonight was fun, but I'd rather have a win obviously. It's the first time in 21 years our team has been in this championship game and I've never been more proud of this group of girls."
The Falcons played solid defense in the first half, but the Titans size and experience took over in the second half as McDonagh and Lindsey Oldshue proved to be too tough on the boards and too tough around the basket on the offensive end. Seven of McDonagh's rebounds were on the offensive end and Oldshue finished the night with 18 points and 7 boards.
"The girls played really well in the second half," said Titans coach Steve Weissenstein, who was presented a game ball in recognition of notching his 400th career win in Friday's semifinal defeat of Lyons Township. "We've played zone all year but we were so afraid of her (Traversa) so we played man. And Teigan did a great job. She's long and she's smart. She wouldn't let her get good looks."
Even with Traversa contained, Wheaton North battled behind Baird and center Jessica Beamon (12 points, 5 rebounds) along with the occasional dart to the basket by guard Brooke Schanowski, who finished with 7 points and 2 steals.
"When I started nine years ago we went 1-27, and now this program is 12-4 and we just played for a championship," Eaton said. "Even tonight there were spurts where we saw flashes of greatness. Now we want to peak toward February."
In the third-place contest, Glenbard South outlasted Lyons Township 63-57 and afterward Steffi Bazigos was named to the Falcon Classic all-tourney squad.