Wheaton Warrenville South had a quick statistic to explain why the Tigers came from behind in the second half to defeat Prospect 61-46 on Saturday at the 24th annual McDonald's Shootout in Villa Park.
The Tigers (17-2), ranked third in the Daily Herald Top 20, grabbed just 13 rebounds in the first half, and No. 5 Prospect (16-4) took a 28-21 lead at halftime of their girls basketball game.
The Tigers finished the game with 42 rebounds.
"Coach was disappointed with our first half," said Tigers guard Meghan Waldron, who scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds with future coach Doug Bruno of DePaul watching.
"We did a nice job -- I mean, we tried -- to keep them off the offensive glass," Prospect coach Ashley Graham added. "In that third quarter they got a lot of second-chance opportunities. Waldron took over. She had 14 points in that third quarter, and that really hurt us. She's a great player. Our goal was to keep her under 20 and she goes off for 29."
The Tigers started the third quarter with a 6-0 run, then took the lead for good with three minutes left on a Waldron 3-pointer. They finished the quarter on a 12-0 run to lead 43-35 going into the fourth.
"We were getting opportunities, we just weren't finishing it," Waldron said. "The second half we just picked up our intensity on defense and finished our shots on offense."
"In games like this it's defense," Tigers coach Rob Kroehnke said, "and we didn't rebound well (in the first half). We just gave up too many easy buckets in the second quarter. We missed some layups and all of a sudden you're down 8. That's what happens against good teams.
"And we said, listen, you don't need to do anything different. You just need to play solid defense. And that run right at the beginning of the third sort of sparked us, and we said, OK, you know what, let's play some basketball. And our defense and rebounding turned into our offense."
The Knights felt the Tigers' added defensive intensity, particularly junior Taylor Will. Will scored 14 points in the first half, just 5 in the second.
"She's good," Waldron said of Will, "but Melinda Franke is one of the best defenders in the state, I have no doubt. I hate playing against her in practice because she's a great defender. Every team we play she's guarding the best player and she slows them down."
Franke and Will are summer teammates, "So Melinda was excited to get that assignment," Kroehnke said, "and she worked really hard."
"They did a nice job. They definitely, obviously, knew where she was," added Graham, whose team played an overtime game Friday night. "That's a testament to Taylor. She's a great player."
Prospect pulled within 7 points in the fourth quarter, but Olivia Linebarger bumped the lead back to double digits again with 1:50 to play. Linebarger finished with 11 point for the Tigers, and Erin Zappia added 10.
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