In a race that was expected to go down to the wire, Wheaton North moved the wire.
The Falcons captured the DuPage Valley Conference girls basketball championship Saturday afternoon with a 30-29 victory at second-place Naperville Central that did go down to the final buzzer.
"Oh, my goodness, honestly I don't even have words to describe our feelings right now," Falcons junior Hannah Swider said. "We were chanting in the (postgame) locker room, and it was crazy."
The final week of the regular season will have no impact after all because the Falcons (20-4, 14-0), with two games to play, have run the table so far.
"It's really hard to beat everybody in our league," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum added. "Even given today's -- it was a real strange game -- they're 14-0. They've beaten everybody, and they deserve to be champions. All around, we just didn't finish. We didn't do a good job of executing some things."
Those things came in the final seconds. Swider's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left cut Naperville Central's lead to 1 point.
"Really, when I made that 3 I was really just thanking the Lord," Swider said. "In my head I was praying. I was like, thank you, Jesus, for everything. I was really excited for that and then we came out of the timeout and everybody was saying we've got to calm down, we've been here plenty of times."
After the Redhawks (21-8, 12-3) turned the basketball over trying to inbound it, Swider was fouled with 7.5 seconds to go. She made both free throws and gave Wheaton North its first lead -- 30-29 -- since the start of the second quarter.
"Big-time players make big-time shots. She had their last 5 points," Nussbaum said. "She's a big-time player."
The Redhawks' final shots attempts went for naught.
"We talked about grit," Eaton said. "They've got a lot of grit. They just find ways to win. Different people in different situations."
Defense was the order of the day, and both teams' shooting stats showed it. The Falcons won despite making only 3 of 40 shots, with each of those 3 made shots being 3-pointers. The Falcons were 21 of 29 at the free-throw line.
"Both teams played really hard, and you could see how important it was to both teams," Eaton said. "You could see both teams had a lot riding on it and it was a pressure situation."
Naperville Central fared slightly better from the floor, converting 8 of 50 shots.
"It was crazy," Swider said. "Both teams fought and it was a battle to the end. We just came out with that, and it was really exciting."
Swider and Nikki Baird led the Falcons with 9 points apiece. Mia Lakstigala led all scorers with 14 points and Lucy Schmid added 12.
"That's a great team, a great high school game. Nothing like coming down to the last second, and they still got a shot up and just missed," Eaton said. "I'm just really proud of our girls. They responded down the stretch."