As the No. 4-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South girls basketball players put on their warmups after Thursday night's 42-19 road win over Glenbard North, the girls knew that treating every game as a big game paid off again.
"The (DuPage Valley Conference title) is in our hands. We treat every game as a big game. We have to play well and can't go through the motions," said WW South junior Meghan Waldron, who scored a game-high 19 points.
The Tigers (23-3, 12-0) can keep their hands on at least part of the DVC title plaque with a win Saturday at Glenbard East that would guarantee them a share of the league title.
Coach Rob Kroehnke knew defense would play a dominant role in the game. He stresses it with WW South as a key to success and knew the Panthers (10-13, 7-5), who went into the game having beaten another ranked team, Naperville Central, last Saturday, would be tough defensively as well.
"(The Panthers) play great defense, and we were not really doing what we wanted to offensively in the first half. But if you play defense like we did, you are not going to struggle. We had better looks in the second half and got the ball inside more," Kroehnke said.
The Tigers led 7-2 after the first quarter and essentially broke the game open early in the second with three unanswered baskets. Waldron and Olivia Linebarger converted steals into layups and Melinda Franke also hit net to put WW South up 13-2.
The Tigers led 19-6 at halftime and 37-12 after three quarters on 14-of-25 shooting from the field. The team also controlled the boards, enjoying a 16-5 advantage at halftime.
Franke and Diamond Thompson followed on the scoresheet with 6 points each, and Franke pulled down 9 rebounds.
The Panthers, who were led by Katie Wisniewski's 6 points, put forth a pretty strong defensive effort except for the Tigers' 18-6 advantage in the third quarter. However, the offense wasn't there Thursday night.
"Our half-court defense did what we wanted it to do. But put-backs hurt us. We played good defense, but we didn't come up with the rebounds and you aren't going to win scoring 19 points," said Glenbard North coach John Chamberlain.