Hyde scores 25 in Wheaton North's win over Geneva
Nothing in the first three minutes of Tuesday's game suggested a breakout performance by Wheaton North.
The Falcons struggled with the simple aspects of basketball in the early stages against Geneva.
Scoring was the main problem.
That is, until Wheaton North junior point guard Claire Hyde swished a 3-pointer for her team's first basket at the five-minute mark of the first quarter.
It was downhill the rest of the way for the Vikings.
With the pint-size, tough-as-nails Hyde drilling 3s and attacking the paint for a game-high 25 points, the Falcons fed off their defense en route to a 54-41 rout of the Vikings in DuKane Conference action.
Julia Simon and Ellie Hubbard both scored 11 points for the Falcons (6-2, 4-2).
Last season, the Vikings ended the Falcons' season with a 50-38 victory in a Class 4A sectional semifinal. After a lengthy offseason, the Falcons enacted their revenge with a relentless defensive effort and the scoring of Hyde and Hubbard. In fact, the Falcons were thirsting for revenge after losing three times to the Vikings last season. It just took them a little longer to get in sync on Tuesday.
The victory didn't take the sting off the playoff loss, but was satisfying for the returnees.
Sporting a sweat-soaked mask, Hyde, who made three 3-pointers, said the Falcons relished beating the Vikings.
"Every single time we thought we were going to beat (Geneva) last year, but it didn't go our way," Hyde said. "Having the same group of girls back, we had that experience but also that drive to get them back. We were really looking forward to this game. Last year was tough for us, but we knew what we had to do tonight and executed."
Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said his team was motivated to notch a win over the Vikings. The Falcons' defense harassed the Vikings into turnovers and rushed shots, holding them to under nine points in the first and second quarters.
"Our kids really stepped up and answered the bell," Eaton said. "We played a little tight to begin, but then we sort of took a breath and started playing like we wanted to play. I thought we did a really nice job defensively."
The Falcons pulled away in the second quarter, with the 5-foot-4 Hyde opening up the scoring with a 3-pointer. A few minutes later, Hyde scored four straight points for a 28-14 lead.
Eaton said Hyde was the driving engine in the victory.
"She's our quarterback, our Tom Brady," Eaton said of Hyde. "She did a great job of answering the bell offensively. She's so hard to guard."
Early in the third quarter, Hyde ignited the offense with a scoring run of six points in a matter of a few minutes to increase the lead to 40-23. Hyde ended the run with a 4-foot floater fading away from the rim.
Simon broke open the game with a coast-to-coast layup to give the Falcons a 46-27 advantage. The Vikings mounted a late comeback by cutting the deficit to 48-37 but cooled off in the final minutes. Cassidy Arni paced the Vikings with 18 points, while Kate Palmer had nine points.
"I loved our fight in the second half," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "I felt our kids didn't stop. Wheaton North comes at you. We had to have composure. We're going to learn from this ... Hyde is really good."