Wheaton Warrenville South's defense frustrates St. Charles East

 
 
Updated 12/13/2019 10:20 PM

Wheaton Warrenville South girls basketball coach Rob Kroehnke loves when his team plays hard-nosed defense.

It has been a staple of Kroehnke's teams throughout the years and one of the main reasons why the Tigers have captured 9 regional titles and a pair of sectional championships and have enjoyed 11 20-win campaigns in his 18-plus seasons at the helm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Things didn't change much on Friday night.

Limiting St. Charles East to just 1 field goal in the first half, Wheaton Warrenville South built a 22-8 halftime lead and held on the rest of the way for a 42-30 DuKane Conference triumph over the Saints (4-8, 1-1) in St. Charles.

"I thought defensively we did a great job," said Kroehnke. "We had a nice little run at the beginning of the game and then we went through a little dry spell there. Thankfully, our defense kept us where we were."

Sophomore forward Lily Huntzinger scored 9 of her 11 points in the opening half for the Tigers (2-6, 1-1), who snapped a 6-game losing streak.

"We needed a win badly," said Kroehnke. "It feels really good."

Junior Mia McCoyd, who tallied a game-high 14 points with 4 rebounds, echoed her coach's sentiments.

"It feels great," said McCoyd. "What we really focused on for this game was defense. I'm really proud of how we played as a whole."

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The Tigers used a zone defense throughout the game to frustrate the Saints, who connected on just 2 of 22 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

"It's pretty much all we practice," McCoyd said of the zone defense. "We're getting good at that."

The Tigers led by as many as 19 points at 22-3 in the first half following a 3-pointer from Huntzinger, who added a team-high 7 rebounds.

"I thought we rebounded really well in the first half -- maybe not so much in the second half," said Kroehnke.

St. Charles East's lone first-half basket came on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Torrie Kortan with 3:15 remaining in the second quarter.

"We didn't shoot well tonight," said Saints coach Aubree Schuett. "You've got to put the ball in the basket to win.

"I thought we did a nice job handling their pressure but we went faster than we want to go. We made some poor decisions -- throwing the ball to basically no one. Unfortunately, young teams make those kinds of mistakes. The only thing we can do is learn from it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Saints won the second half, 22-20, closing within 29-22 after 3 quarters following back-to-back layups from Elle McCaslin (6 points, 6 rebounds).

St. Charles East trailed 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter before the Tigers scored the next 5 points to seal the decision.

Emma Showman added 6 points for the Tigers, who await their home opener next Friday against Wheaton North.

"We're getting there," said Kroehnke.

Kortan led the Saints with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

"No shortage of opportunities -- we just couldn't put the ball in the basket," said Schuett. "It's a very young group and we're making progress. We just need to keep plugging along."

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