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Article updated: 2/18/2014 10:40 PM
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Baird on the mark for Wheaton North
 

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Baird on the mark for Wheaton North

Wheaton North senior Chrissy Baird didn't want to think about school records, not before a Class 4A girls basketball regional semifinal.

After Tuesday's 57-41 victory against Downers Grove South at Wheaton North, that was a good time to enjoy passing Fantasia Vine's all-time scoring mark.

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"I kind of had a feeling it was coming, but I didn't want to know because I didn't want to choke and let my team down," said Baird, who will head to UCLA as a preferred walk-on. "... My teammates, they're awesome. This is one of the best teams I've ever been a part of. And my friends. Everyone's just been super supportive this year and I'm just blessed to be a part of all of it."

Baird finished the game with 12 points -- 1,058 in her three-plus seasons on the varsity -- as well as 11 rebounds, passing Vine with a putback with 6:02 left in the first quarter to give the Falcons a 6-2 lead.

"What an accomplishment," Falcons coach Dave Eaton said, "and to do it in three years, too. She got very limited time as a freshman, then her sophomore year just came out of the gates ready to go. I'm very proud of her. She's a special kid. She's worked hard for it, so she's definitely earned it."

The Falcons (19-9) never trailed, with the lead hitting double digits at 15-5 on another Baird basket off an Emari Jones assist with 2:30 left in the first. Emmy Gryna's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Falcons a 24-7 lead after the first eight minutes.

"We had come out and we wanted to be ready to go," Baird said. "We had a few slipups in the last few games, so we wanted to be ready to go. Our press was there. Emari played awesome the first half, everyone played awesome. Abbie Watts stepped up, played the best game I've ever seen her play. She made stops when we needed them. And Abby Tiesman, we wouldn't have won the game without those two."

"It's their home court," first-year Mustangs coach Lyndsie Long added. "They were ready to play. We knew what they were going to come out with. It was just about adjustments. It's kind of hard to adjust from the get-go when there's so much momentum going their way. But once we slowed down and got the hang of it we broke that 1-3-1 extended (press) very well and I was very pleased with that."

Instead of being blown out, the Mustangs showed their resolve. Several times they cut the lead to 10.

"We couldn't get any closer," Long said. "We had some great looks. We played really, really tough tonight, played really physical. Probably the best game that I've seen out of them. It (stinks) that it's over, but they battled their way to the end."

"I thought we came out ready to go," Eaton added, "and then we just got content. We took our foot off the accelerator a little bit and thought, here we go, we got this. And their kids kept fighting. She's doing a good job of getting her kids to play hard, and they played hard through all 32 minutes. I think we took a good 8-12 minutes off there where I don't think we played to the level we should have."

Jones also scored 12 points for the Falcons, and Tiesman came off the bench to score 10 and grab 7 rebounds.

Senior Claire Hardy led the Mustangs (9-16) with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, and junior guard Vashae Easley added 10 points.

"(Monday, a quarterfinal victory against West Chicago) all her shots were going in and out, in and out, so after the game I told her, your shots are going to go in tomorrow so keep shooting. Obviously, she's going to do that, she's our leading scorer. I'm just so happy for her. She's been a great contributor to our team this year. It's going to be a big shoe to fill next year."

The fourth-seeded Falcons will host No. 5 Geneva at 7 p.m. Thursday in the regional final.

Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz

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