Wheaton North junior Hannah Swider poured in a game-high 21 points and sophomore teammate Nikki Baird tallied the final four points for the Falcons, including two free throws with 39.8 seconds left.
But their most important play came at the end. That's when Swider and Baird successfully defended a lob to Glenbard South center Maggie Bair, whose short jumper in the lane rimmed out.
Baird rebounded the miss as time expired and Wheaton North escaped with a 41-40 girls basketball victory in the quarterfinals of the Bill Neibch Falcon Holiday Classic on Tuesday.
The seventh-seeded Falcons (9-3) take an eight-game winning streak into Wednesday's semifinal against third-seeded Lyons Twp.
"We stress defense and rebounding and that's the way that we win games," Baird said. "That was a perfect example of that. It came down to the last play and that's what we did."
That the Raiders (7-4) were in position to win was a testament to their resiliency. They proved their upset of No. 2 seed Hinsdale Central on Monday was no fluke by nearly erasing a 13-point deficit.
Baird made both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 41-38, but Mady Carli scored on a layup to pull Glenbard South within 1.
After both sides turned it over, the Raiders inbounded under the Falcons' basket and found the 6-foot-2 Bair. Baird and Swider immediately contested the shot.
"Swider was there to help me," Baird said. "She got my help after the ball went (in play). She boxed her out and I got the rebound."
Baird's emphatic grab of the rebound prevented any chance of a putback.
"We've been talking to Nikki about rebounding, and the way she went after that ball, it was different then letting it come to her," Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said. "She went up and grabbed it and that's a huge rebound. I've seen a lot of teams lose on a second-chance putback at the buzzer."
Bair had a good look at the basket, but Swider, a football coach's daughter, didn't make it easy.
"We had seen the play they were going to run," Eaton said. "We knew the ball was coming to (Bair), and when she's that much taller than anybody we've got, we said to the girls, 'You've got to get in.' I thought they did a good job of getting in tight and disrupting it enough."
Swider could not be disrupted on offense. She shot 9 for 14, which included three 3-pointers and the first 11 points for Wheaton North.
The Raiders roared back behind Sarah Cohen, who tallied 9 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. But it wasn't enough.
"We just let them dictate how tough we were going to be," Glenbard South coach Morgan Kasperek said. "They were pretty tough with the basketball and we struggled to make our cuts. We let them completely disrupt our offense."