West Chicago wasn't going to let this girls basketball victory pass without enjoying it.
The Wildcats celebrated their first home victory of the season and first win since Dec. 28, defeating Waubonsie Valley 46-40 in overtime Saturday afternoon on senior day.
"That was intense," said senior Madeline Earls, who celebrated along with classmates Natalie Warkins, Aubry Kusper, Kelsey Windisch, Molly Ricci and Shelly Molskow. "That was our first overtime, so we were really tired. And even though we missed our free throws, luckily we still ended it with a win."
"We went 0-for-January, so I give these kids a lot of credit," West Chicago coach Kim Wallner added after her 401st career victory. "They've stuck with it, kept a good attitude, a good mentality."
That positive attitude came in handy a couple of times against the Warriors (6-17, 4-8 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division), who led by 9 points early in the fourth quarter and led again 40-37 with 1:31 to play in overtime.
"When we started hitting a couple of buckets we got a little confidence going," said Wallner, whose team has struggled with its shooting.
"We always knew we were going to win," Earls said. "We just came ready."
The Wildcats (5-21, 2-10) scored the final 9 points of overtime, starting with Windisch's basket with 1:06 left. Mae Gimre tied the game at 40 with a free throw, then Earls broke the tie with another free throw with 41.4 seconds to go.
"I missed the first one, but I knew I had to make the second one to pick the team up," Earls said.
When Gimre stole the ball and scored again with 34 seconds to play, the momentum was firmly in the Wildcats' favor. Gimre finished with a game-best 17 points.
"We just made way too many mistakes," said Warriors coach David Owles, whose team had three players foul out. "Fundamentals. The basics. Poor passing. Poor free-throw shooting. That killed us. ... All the little things you need to do in a close game to come out, we did not. We knew coming in that West Chicago would play their butts off. They always do, and give them all the credit. They kept after it the whole game. They don't let up and we just didn't handle their pressure. Especially in the fourth quarter, we just didn't handle their pressure."
Freshman Janiece Thomas came off the bench to lead Waubonsie Valley with 12 points, including a step-back 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer and give the Warriors a 28-21 lead.
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