From the moment Meghan Waldron grabbed the opening tip off the bounce and drove for an easy layup four seconds into Tuesday's Class 4A WW South regional semifinals, one thing was clear:
Wheaton Warrenville South meant business.
The Tigers looked every bit like the No. 1 seed in the Bartlett girls basketball sectional, easily defeating No. 17 St. Charles North 62-41.
The Tigers (26-3) took a 12-0 lead before 6-foot-1 freshman Morgan Rosencrants converted a lay-in for the North Stars (9-20) midway through the first quarter.
"The first quarter was rough," North Stars coach Colleen Backer said. "We tied them the second quarter. The second quarter was significantly better, but when you have that gap, it's just difficult. They came out really, really strong and we came out a little intimidated."
"We wanted to make a statement that it was going to be a hard game," the Tigers' 6-4 senior Diamond Thompson said.
The Tigers never let the margin dip into single digits again, the lead hitting 28 points in the third quarter.
"We're the hunted right now, and if we're not ready to play, anything can happen," Tigers coach Rob Kroehnke said. "Our focus was to start of the game, come out strong. I thought we made a great run at the beginning of the game, but we had a little letup in the second quarter. But then we answered at the beginning of the third."
Thompson led both teams in scoring with 22 points, adding 5 rebounds and 4 blocks.
"I expected them to change up their defense, but they stayed in man, so we kept pounding it in there," Thompson said.
"She's improved every day since the beginning of the year," Kroehnke said of Thompson. "Unfortunately, she had that little spell in January where she hurt her knee and she was out again. It halted her progress. She's a very skilled kid, and when she gets the ball in a certain spot around the basket, she can finish. ... And she's playing much better defense and much better rebounding too."
Waldron added 12 points, and Olivia Linebarger and Melinda Franke 10 for the Tigers, who will host No. 9 York in Thursday's regional final.
Sophomore Nicole Davidson led the North Stars with 12 points, all of them coming in the second quarter, and senior Alex Silverman added 11.
"It's obviously a very talented team," Backer said of the Tigers. "We had a hard time getting stops on 'D' and we had a hard time blocking out, which has been very difficult for us at times. It's a very talented team. I expect them to do a lot of big things."