Wheaton North had a nice little stretch late in the second quarter of Tuesday's nonconference girls basketball game to cut the deficit to single digits, and that had the Falcons feeling pretty good.
After all, Rolling Meadows (10-1) is so good that many teams just hope to stay somewhat close to the powerful Mustangs, who returned five starters from last year's Class 4A runner-up team. In Tuesday's game in Wheaton, the Falcons battled and showed plenty of heart, but in the end the loaded visitors prevailed 89-68, using a 31-point third quarter powered by Jackie Kemph to show just how good they can play at times.
"We got some steals and we got some easy baskets," said Kemph, who went 7 of 7 from the floor in the third quarter and finished the night with 36 points, 7 assists and 6 steals. "That kind of gave us some momentum, so we got that big lead."
The speedy Kemph excelled on both ends of the floor, but she had plenty of help. Alexis Glasgow knocked down a trio of 3s while scoring 13 points as Rolling Meadows took a 25-14 lead after one quarter. With Glasgow and Kemph combing for 37 points through two quarters, the Mustangs led 42-31 at the intermission, despite a solid first half by the Falcons, who had 13 points from Chrissy Baird and a big effort on the boards from Emari Jones.
"I would have liked to be a little bit closer than 11 (at the half), which would have been great for us," Falcons coach Dave Eaton said. "They were ranked nationally up to the Whitney Young game, and there's a reason. They've got four Division I kids and they're an exceptional high school team."
Wheaton North, which has played a power-packed schedule to date, dropped to 5-5 on the year, with losses to five strong programs, including the likes of Wheaton Warrenville South, Neuqua Valley, Prospect and Conant. But even that stiff competition didn't prepare them enough to face the Mustangs and St. Louis University-bound guard Kemph.
"Jackie Kemph really gets that team going," Eaton said of the Mustangs, whose lone loss this year came to Whitney Young. "She takes the ball circle to circle faster than any kid, and you can't simulate that in practice."
As if the guard duo of Kempf and Glasgow were not enough, the Mustangs have plenty of size and talent in 6-foot-1 Ashley Montanez and 6-2 Jenny Vliet. Vliet, who scored 11 of her 17 points in the big third quarter, will join Kemph in playing college ball at St. Louis.
For the Falcons, Baird finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Jones managed 8 points and 11 rebounds despite picking up her fourth foul late in the first half. Emmy Gryna added a pair of 3-pointers and had 11 points for Wheaton North, which will return to DVC action against Lake Park on Thursday and then host its annual holiday tourney next week.