Struebing carries on family tradition at WW South
Hannah Struebing bobbed her head to the rhythm of the music during a timeout Saturday, seemingly impervious to the pressure of the moment.
"That's what keeps me composed," said Struebing, Wheaton Warrenville South's freshman post. "I can't get too excited because then I'll play out of control."
She sure didn't play like a freshman, either.
Struebing scored a game-high 14 points with 5 rebounds, one of a couple youngsters who played key roles for the Tigers. Struebing made a number of critical plays down the stretch for the Tigers in a 44-31 win over visiting Wheaton North.
"She is beyond her years, the way she plays," WW South coach Rob Kroehnke said of his talented freshman. "The way she plays, it's with a lot of maturity. Hannah's watched a lot of Tiger basketball."
Indeed, Saturday may have been Struebing's first taste of the crosstown rivalry from the court, but she's hardly a stranger to it.
Her old sisters Sarah and Abby, now a senior and sophomore in college, respectively, played at WW South before her.
"I went to literally every game I could; I loved watching them play," Struebing said. "It's so surreal being out there myself playing."
Sophomore Ella Crawford added 10 points and 5 rebounds, and junior Campbell Bastian 5 points and 7 rebounds for the Tigers (4-3, 1-3 DuKane Conference), who shot an impressive 47% from the field and held Wheaton North (4-2, 2-2) to about half its season scoring average. Ellie Hubbard scored 10 points, Claire Hyde 7 and Julia Simon had 4 rebounds and 3 steals for Wheaton North, which dropped its second straight game after a 4-0 start.
The Falcons shot just 1-for-16 from 3-point range, 8-for-18 from the free-throw line and missed several layups which prevented them from setting up their vaunted full court pressure.
"We had a tough time putting the ball in the basket," Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said. "We could not get into our pressure because we need for teams to take the ball inbounds to get set, and we never really made shots. If we're not scoring, it's hard to get the defense set."
Struebing scored on a driving layup, and again on a basket breaking Wheaton North pressure, then assisted Katie Kroehnke's second 3-pointer to key a 7-0 run for a 23-13 Tigers lead late in the first half.
On a number of occasions Struebing would catch the ball near the free-throw line, calmly gather herself and look to drive and score or kick to an open teammate.
"Coach Kroehnke taught me so well," Struebing said. "I just have to be at the top, pivot around and look for the opposite side. I'm pretty confident in my ability to drive, I would say that's one of my strong points. I really want everyone to score, I know they're great shooters. I'm going to look out for them too."
WW South, leading by 13 late in the third quarter, watched as Wheaton North closed to 33-26 on Hyde's driving layup. But the Tigers' youngsters responded.
Crawford broke the Falcons' pressure for a layup, Struebing scored inside and then kicked to Lily Huntzinger for a corner 3 and 40-26 lead.
How'd Struebing handle the pressure? Honestly, she hardly thought about it.
"I honestly wasn't thinking, I was just playing," she said. "It was the competitive nature of myself that helped me there. I'm proud of how well we played."
WW South did turn it over 31 times, but Wheaton North rarely capitalized with scores, and the Tigers themselves scored several times when they broke it. And the Tigers held the Falcons to four single-digit quarters, playing primarily man-to-man instead of Kroehnke's usual 1-3-1 zone.
"We played one possession of 1-3-1, and we've been trying to run it, but the issue right now is that Campbell and Hannah and Ella, they're brand new with me and teaching the 1-3-1 takes a lot of time," Kroehnke said. "Unfortunately when you don't understand it you get picked part and leave open shots. I didn't want these guys (Wheaton North) shooting 3s with nobody on them."