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Wheaton Warrenville South's girls basketball team has had so many injuries this season, it left snakebit behind in December. By now the Tigers know how to adjust.
So when senior guard Sierra Bisso injured her right knee in the second quarter Thursday against DuPage Valley Conference rival Naperville Central, the Tigers knew what they had to do.
WW South rallied from a 7-point deficit to remain undefeated in the conference with a 44-39 victory in Wheaton.
"As I've been telling the kids for a few weeks now, you can either make excuses or you can get results," said Tigers coach Rob Kroehnke, his broken leg in a cast. "Ever since Maggie (Dansdill) went out earlier in the year and Kelly (Langlas) has been out and Diamond (Thompson) has been out, now Sierra's out. Guess what? We keep getting results. I couldn't be more proud of these kids, the way they fought in the second half. It was nerve-wracking but a lot of fun to watch."
"She's one of our top scorers, so after she went out everyone had to pick up their scoring amount," added junior guard Meghan Waldron. "... We stepped it up. We've done it all year now."
Waldron put most of the scoring load on her own shoulders, dropping in 26 points with DePaul coach Doug Bruno watching. She also had 10 rebounds and 6 steals.
"We tried to stop Waldron," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said. "She's just really good."
Waldron and her teammates were really good on the defensive end also, holding the Redhawks to a season-low point total.
"For whatever reason we struggled offensively tonight," Nussbaum said after his team made just 11 of 42 shots. "I thought here were times we got good shots and just didn't make them. They did not give us a lot of second chances. They play pretty good defense. They extend out a little farther than most teams make you, they're a little longer than most teams are. And it's hard to simulate that in practice."
Fortunately for the Redhawks (21-4, 7-3), their defense was pretty good too, holding the Tigers (20-3, 10-0) to 8-of-29 shooting in the first half. They led 25-18 in the third quarter, but then the Tigers started to find their shooting stroke. going on a 12-2 run and taking a 32-30 lead when Langlas finished the third with a basket at the buzzer. The Tigers, who made 12 of 23 second-half shots, never gave up that lead, showing why they earned the No. 1 at next month's Class 4A Bartlett sectional.
"It's deserved by these kids, what they've done all year," Kroehnke said. "We're going to take it, 100 percent, and do the best we can with it."
Now the Tigers have to hope Bisso, who scored 30 points against Hillcrest on Saturday, isn't badly injured.
"It's her knee," Kroehnke said. "The trainer can't tell for sure right now. It's loose. Same knee that she tore two years ago. So we'll wait and see."