Nerves and all, Kyra Spiwak enjoyed herself.
With Monday's Class 4A Glenbard West sectional semifinal in the balance, Rolling Meadows got the basketball to its senior guard. It was a great choice.
Spiwak scored 18 points, including the basket that sent the game to overtime and five free throws in the extra period to lead the third-seeded Mustangs past No. 2 Wheaton North 43-40 in Glen Ellyn. The Mustangs meet No. 1 Geneva on Thursday night.
"We've never been in something like that," said Spiwak, who added 8 rebounds and 2 assists. "It was so much fun, just the atmosphere and everything. And it really came down to the wire."
Spiwak wasn't afraid to admit a touch of nervousness at the free-throw line.
"Definitely," she said with a laugh. "It is very nerve-wracking. But it was fun. It's such a fun atmosphere. I had a blast."
Her coach just was happy to get the ball to Spiwak against Wheaton North's scrappy defense.
"She's the person we want the ball in her hands at the end," Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. "She made plays down the stretch."
Maybe Spiwak's best free throw was one she missed. After making the first shot in a 1-and-1 situation with 9.5 seconds to play in overtime and the Mustangs leading by 2 points, Spiwak chased down her own rebound and was fouled again, with nearly three seconds having ticked off the clock. She again made 1 of 2, then two more free throws with 4.1 seconds to go to secure the win for Rolling Meadows (23-7).
Wheaton North (23-6) got off to a great start, taking a 19-8 lead at the 4:40 mark of the second quarter on a Hannah Swider 3-pointer.
"I thought our kids really played hard all season," said Eaton, who played just one senior Monday. "This isn't how we wanted it to end, but I think we just showed everybody that we belonged here."
"They were really tough," Spiwak added. "They're a really good team."
It showed when the Falcons took that 11-point lead.
"Was it 11?" Kirkorsky asked about the margin. "I've known (Falcons coach Dave Eaton) for a long time and that's how his teams come out. They just are so prepared. The biggest thing we said is we have to get out to a great start. They took great shots, we took bad shots. We've got five seniors. I knew we'd kind of chip away at it."
The Mustangs got started chipping away right after Swider's 3-pointer, scoring the final 8 points of the half.
"We needed to calm down a little bit," Kirkorsky said. "Our best player (Spiwak) kind of got into a groove and played like our best player. And just heart."
The Falcons still looked good with 2:17 to play in the fourth quarter when Sarah Topps' basket gave them a 34-30 lead. The Mustangs sent the game to overtime, however, on Spiwak's basket with three seconds left.
"She made a great play," Eaton said. "The kid drove to the basket and made a play. If she doesn't make the play, they're down 2. You've got to give them credit. That kid stepped up and made a play to keep her team going."
Sophomore Alexa Davis gave Rolling Meadows the lead for good in overtime with a 3-pointer 45 seconds in. The Mustangs' only scoring the rest of the game came from Spiwak free throws.
Senior Katherine Nolan added 10 points for Rolling Meadows. Swider led the Falcons with 14 points and 6 rebounds.