2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/17/2017 11:49 PM

Wheaton North uses defense to defeat Schaumburg

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By D.J. Wanberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

Wheaton North, like any team, travels to road games with what it needs -- uniforms, shoes, score book, clipboards, etc.

And it never goes anywhere without its defense.

The Falcons, seeded second in the Class 4A Glenbard West sectional, put forth another strong scoring performance, but an equally strong defense kept Schaumburg's talented offense in check.

Wheaton North won Friday's Class 4A Batavia regional final 55-37.

It was the Falcons' first girls basketball regional title since 2013. Next up is a Monday sectional semifinal contest against third-seeded Rolling Meadows. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

"I don't know what to say. I'm so proud of our team," said Falcons sophomore Nikki Baird. "Our key is playing together every game, every practice. Our first practice was on Halloween and we've been doing everything together since then."

Baird led her team with a game-high 19 points, with two others reaching double digits, Hannah Swider with 13 and Matti Zander with 10.

Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said a showing on offense like that comes from playing excellent defense.

"We've prided ourselves on our defense all year. Defense travels home or away. Schaumburg had four or five players capable of scoring in double digits. I though we limited their shots, but when they did get a shot off we made them work for it."

The Falcons led from the start, but the ink on the outcome of the game didn't dry early as the seventh-seeded Saxons (16-13) kept up their pressure on Wheaton North for all four quarters.

The Falcons hit six 3-point baskets during the first half to lead 27-19 at halftime. Schaumburg though pulled to with 5 twice with just over three minutes left in the second quarter.

The Saxons pulled to with five again right at the start of the third period on Mallory Gerber's 3-pointer, which was the first basket for either team. Wheaton North led by 15 at the end of 24 minute, thanks to Sarah Topps being left alone for an easy layup.

The fourth quarter saw the Falcons never lead by less than 12 thanks to a 14-of-17 free-throw shooting performance.

Laura O'Connell led the Saxons with 14 points. Gerber had 10.

"I think with a game like this and you are the lower seed, you need to start off with a bang," said Schaumburg coach Jacqie Storm. "We closed the gap, but we were never able to break it."

It was Storm's first season as Saxons coach.

"I am so grateful for the seniors. They transitioned into my system, my program and bought into what we were trying to do. They cared about each other. They played for the person next to them. That's all you can ask," she said.

Wheaton North hasn't faced Rolling Meadows this season.

"It will be a physical game. They have some good inside and outside shooters. We need to continue playing strong defense," Eaton said.

"We haven't gone to a sectional in a while. It's a thrilling opportunity," Swider said.

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