Wheaton North led wire to wire in Saturday's win over visiting Glenbard South, but it was apparent throughout that no lead was going to be safe against the battling Raiders.
It was the Falcons at the end winning 59-52 as they turned back several Glenbard South charges in a fast-paced game that featured two of the quicker offenses in the area.
"We're pretty fast and up-tempo all the time," said Wheaton North's Chrissy Baird. "It's interesting when we play teams like Glenbard South. It's just up and down, up and down. But today we kept our composure and kept fighting to stay ahead."
"I liked our balance," said Wheaton North coach David Eaton. "We have a bunch of kids who can score and our defense is coming along."
The Falcons jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter and stayed ahead 28-21 at the half.
But a flurry of scoring by Glenbard South's Ivana Markovic, who hit 10 of her game-high 19 points, drew the Raiders to within 4 points at the end of three quarters.
"Early on we didn't adjust offensively to what they were doing defensively," said Glenbard South coach Julie Fonda. "Their guards were active and we were stagnant. We were giving them tips on the ball. But we made some adjustments and the girls executed well and brought us back in the game."
Then the Falcons (4-4) scored the first six points of the final period and seemed to have the cushion they needed to bring it home.
But the Raiders (4-4) kept coming back and they narrowed the deficit to 56-52 with three minutes to play thanks to some awesome 3-point shooting. Markovic hit a 3 and Steffy Bazigos scored from long distance three times.
Three made foul shots, one by Baird and two by Kelly Thornton, who finished the game as the Falcons' leading scorer with 16 points, closed the deal for Wheaton North.
Thornton had a 3-pointer in every quarter, Baird finished with 12 points, Emari Jones scored 9 and Dee Dee Berkley had 8 in the balanced Falcons attack.
"We're still a young team and we're playing a tough schedule," Eaton said about the Falcons. "But we've challenged everyone early in the season and we're learning."
One big obstacle the Falcons faced all night was the defensive presence of Glenbard South's 6-foot-3 center, Sydney Bauman, who blocked 14 shots, her season high.
"Sydney is really active around the basket," Fonda said. "And she doesn't use her body. She's a great volleyball player and she trusts her hands."
"Sydney is a game-changer," Eaton said. "We could have scored a lot more, but she kept batting our shots out of bounds."
For the Raiders, Bazigos finished with 11 points while Megan Smith and Tomei Ball chipped in 9 apiece.
"If you like running basketball, this was the game to watch," Fonda said. "Every time we play each other it's a battle to the end, which is fun."