Take the qualities that made Wheaton North successful so far this season and the defense of the Batavia squad and you have a girls basketball game that went down to the wire Tuesday in semifinal play of the Class 4A Batavia regional.
The Falcons prevailed 42-36 and face seventh-seeded at 7 p.m. Friday in the regional final. Wheaton North is the second seed in the Glenbard West sectional and Batavia was 15th.
"Their defense was aggressive and it didn't foul," said Falcons coach Dave Eaton. "We had some problems with it. Give (Batavia) credit."
It was quiet on the court until 4:40 remained in the first quarter when Wheaton North senior Bella Mullaney, who led her team with 14 points, scored the game's first field goal for either squad. Batavia's first points came with 1:28 remaining when Mackenzie Foster, who scored a game-high 16 points, made a free throw. The Falcons led 7-1 at the end of the first eight minutes.
The Bulldogs (9-22) finally hit for their first field goal with 6:38 until halftime thanks to Foster. The Falcons led 19-6 at halftime.
"We usually play pretty good defense. The teams that have scored on us have been the teams with the potential to go downstate -- Geneva, Benet," said Batavia coach Kevin Jensen.
Wheaton North (22-5) led 28-13 after three quarters and the game seemed on cruise control. But the Batavia offense found its stride, cranking out 23 points in the final quarter.
The Falcons' Nikki Baird hit net just over a minute into the fourth to put her team up 32-16. The Bulldogs then proceeded on a 12-2 run that was capped by Foster's shot that pulled the Bulldogs to within 6 for the second time during the scoring spurt.
Over the span of one minute Wheaton North made 6 of 8 free throws to get its double-digit lead back. Batavia, though, never stopped. Two free throws by Foster and baskets by Elena Cabrera and Alex Piron guaranteed a single-digit margin of victory for the Falcons.
"We continued to be aggressive trying to get to the rim in the second half," Jensen said. "They have a great defense. But we were able to get to the rim and open things up."
For Wheaton North, which hasn't faced Schaumburg this season, it was about doing what has worked for it all season when the Bulldogs fought back.
"(The Bulldogs) played real well and pressured us. They executed. We just stayed calm and played our game," said junior Hannah Swider, who scored 13 points.