Once Wheaton Warrenville South took the lead Friday night, the Tigers weren't about to give it up.
"We just turned it up and kept going," said Tigers senior Chase Stebbins, who scored a game-high 16 points, including five 3-point baskets.
The Tigers prevailed 45-37 against cross-town rival Wheaton North in the DuPage Valley Conference opener for both teams.
The Tigers (5-0, 1-0) led practically the entire game, but it was a battle for four quarters in front of a capacity crowd, particularly in the fourth quarter.
Deng Reng sank two free throws with 2:05 remaining in the game. A subsequent turnover a second or two later gave the Falcons (1-4, 0-1) the ball back and Brayden Anthony made good on a 3-point shot and Wheaton North pulled to within 40-35. Falcons coach Dave Brackmann called a timeout with 1:59 remaining.
With time running short Wheaton North had to foul, and that sent WW South to the free-throw line, where the Tigers made 5 of 9 to keep the Falcons at bay. Stebbins made the last free throw with just 17.5 seconds left.
He said that the Tigers don't rely on just one scorer. They focus on the player who just happens to have the touch on any given night.
"Everyone was doing their thing and I was open. Some nights it might be Parker (Robinson). It might be somebody else on another night," Stebbins said.
Zach Harris followed Stebbins on the scoresheet with 11.
WW South shot 40 percent during the first eight minutes to lead 12-4 at the end of it. The Tigers led at halftime, 20-12.
Offense wasn't in great supply at the conclusion of the third quarter as WW South stayed in control 31-20.
"Defensively, we do what we do every day in practice. We grind it out. The game can go our way if we do our thing," Stebbins said.
Wheaton North found its scoring groove in the final quarter, coming through with a 17-point effort. Jacob Schauer, who led the Falcons with 11 points, hit for 4 in the fourth. Anthony scored 5 of his 8 points in the final eight minutes with Reng hitting 6 of his 8.
Josh Sorenson pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds to lead Wheaton North.
"In the fourth quarter we played a little more free. We made a few stops and that definitely helped our offense," Brackmann said. "We got to the middle of the floor in the game and that's good against the zone. But maybe we should have passed when we attacked and at times maybe we should have attacked when we passed."
The rematch is Jan. 23 at Wheaton North.
"(The Tigers) are a very good team. I'm proud of our guys. We're short-handed because of injuries and we fought and stayed together in a tough environment," Brackmann said.