Win for Wheeling, record for Mundelein's Frank
Morgan Frank had an unspectacular reaction to a spectacular moment.
It proved apropos in the end for the senior forward and her Mundelein girls basketball teammates, who couldn't put together a special performance on a night when the four-year varsity starter made school history.
Instead, it was Wheeling that cheered loudly in its locker room at Lake Zurich after beating Mundelein 32-25 in a Class 4A regional play-in game on Monday night.
"We executed our defensive game plan to a T," Wildcats coach Matt Weber said. "What we've done all year is pride ourselves on playing hard on defense, never quitting, staying mentally strong on offense, and we did that."
Senior point guard Chloe Drozdz had a game-high 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals for 18th-seeded Wheeling (6-25), which plays No. 2 Libertyville (25-4) in Tuesday's first semifinal at Lake Zurich at 6 p.m.
Frank had 9 points and 9 rebounds for No. 15 Mundelein (7-24), which beat Wheeling three weeks ago. Frank entered the game needing 2 points to pass Peggy Koehler (1, 549 points) on Mundelein's all-time scoring list, and she needed only 90 seconds to accomplish it.
Taking a lob from Damia Ali in the low post, Frank converted a layup and was fouled. She clapped hard a couple of times and exchanged mid-fives with her teammates, before sinking the free throw for the game's first points.
"I was going to react [more enthusiastically] but there was really no need to because I knew this game was really important for us," Frank said. "I didn't want to get everyone frazzled with my success. I wanted everyone to just focus on this game."
No announcement over the PA was made to acknowledge Frank's accomplishment, but Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett gave Frank the game ball after the game.
"Morgan didn't get (the record) on Senior Night so I said I'd rather focus more on the team tonight," Mundelein coach Greg Dorgan said.
Wheeling played what Weber called his team's "Red Chaser" defense, basically a 2-3 zone with sophomore Nikki Niznik spending all game chasing Frank, who finished her career with 1,557 points.
"She's our best defender," Drozdz said of Niznik. "Sometimes she goes up against me in practice and I just get so annoyed because she's on my all the time. I'm excited so see what she's going to be like as a senior because she's fast already and she annoys 6-foot girls."
Frank had scored 17 points in the Mustangs' 44-38 at Wheeling on Jan. 25.
"I think they came out with higher intensity than the last time we played them," Frank said. "Their zone was a lot higher up, and they tried to deny me the ball more."
Drozdz, who's shooting over 85 percent from the stripe, made 9 of 10 free throws, including 6 of 6 in the fourth.
"It used to not be my thing," Drozdz said. "I was not good at [free-throw shooting]. But all of a sudden, junior year, it just clicked. I found my perfect routine."