2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/26/2017 10:48 PM

Wheaton North escapes tenacious Lake Park

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By Matt Le Cren
Daily Herald Correspondent

Lake Park had host Wheaton North in a tough spot at the start of the second half of Thursday night's DuPage Valley Conference girls basketball clash.

The Lancers had scored 9 straight points to tie the game before Bella Mullaney's layup with three seconds left gave the Falcons a 22-20 lead at halftime.

But Wheaton North point guard Sophie Ahlberg had 4 fouls and sat out the entire third quarter.

"We said at halftime that whoever wins the third quarter is probably going to win this game," Lake Park coach Brian Rupp said. "They came out, put a lid on our hoop and we only scored 3 points and that was late."

Indeed, the Falcons controlled the third quarter even without their quarterback, scoring the first 12 points of the second half and holding the Lancers scoreless for 6:40 until Carson Vance sank a 3-pointer.

That provided just enough of a cushion as Wheaton North remained unbeaten in the DVC with a 42-39 win.

"We knew we didn't finish the second quarter very well, so even without Sophie other people had to step up," Wheaton North senior Bella Mullaney said. "We're a 15-man team; we're not just five players. Everyone has their role and everyone stepped up."

Mullaney and junior Hannah Swider had the most notable performances. Swider scored a game-high 25 points, including 7 in the decisive third quarter, to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

Mullaney added 9 points and 8 rebounds, including a putback with 6:23 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Falcons (17-4, 11-0) their largest lead, 38-25.

A scooping shot by Swider made it 40-28 with 5:49 to go, but that turned out to be Wheaton North's last basket.

Lake Park (8-14, 6-6) closed with an 11-2 run, surrendering only two free throws to Swider with 56 seconds left. The Lancers then scored the final 8 points, including an uncontested putback by Emily Golab at the buzzer after a Falcons turnover.

"I feel like how we got through that was we had each other's backs," Swider said. "I had some turnovers there, but I knew my team was going to have my back with it and they did.

"We just worked through it second-by-second, minute-by-minute and quarter-by-quarter and we got it done."

The Falcons, who lead the DVC by two games after Naperville Central lost to Wheaton Warrenville South on Thursday, have won 16 of their last 17 games. Seven of the wins have been by 7 points or less.

"Northside Will -- that's what we call it," Mullaney said. "We want it more than the other team and that's basically what it comes down to. We do what we need to do every single possession."

Vance had 19 points and 6 boards to lead Lake Park, which despite the loss has won four of its last six.

"One thing about this team is they don't quit," Rupp said. "They continue to fight and grind and we're taking steps forward."

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