Wheaton North recommits to defense to defeat Hinsdale Central
Sophomore Ally Brown and her Wheaton North girls basketball teammates like creating chaos with defense.That philosophy completely changes when the Falcons regain possession of the ball.“Honestly, the whole team knows on defense we want to ball pressure and then, once we get the steals, kind of just chill out, get the ball, turn and play our game,” Brown said. The Falcons significantly improved that balance Monday after a roller-coaster first half to defeat Hinsdale Central 42-30 in the opening round of their Bill Neibch Falcon Classic in Wheaton.Wheaton North (7-2), the No. 6 seed, only led 21-20 at halftime but outscored Hinsdale Central 17-7 in the third quarter before patiently controlling the fourth quarter.“At halftime, when (Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton) was getting on us, we knew we had to pick it up,” Brown said. “Everyone was chiming in on what they thought and agreeing. We all knew that we just had to come out strong. Our talk was kind of on mindset and how to focus up and then we came out ready to go.”Wheaton North plays in Thursday’s 3 p.m. quarterfinal against No. 3 Bartlett (10-5), a 53-25 winner over Glenbard North (2-9). The Hawks defeated the Falcons in last year’s Classic semifinals and the Class 4A regional finals. Two big numbers for the Falcons were 23 points from sophomore point guard Claire Hyde, including four 3-pointers, and 22 steals that caused most of the 32 turnovers by the Red Devils (3-6) on 63 possessions.Brown had 6 steals, and Julia Simon and Ellie Hubbard 4 apiece. Simon added 6 points and Hubbard 4 points and 4 assists.“I think our lowest (steals) total is 12 to 15,” Eaton said. “We do create some tempo issues and I think naturally our kids react so well to the passing lanes that they’re in the right spot,” Eaton said. “Even though we have a bunch of soccer kids (on our team), they’ve played with a bunch of space in front of them their whole lives. We’ve sort of adapted our defense.” Hinsdale Central sophomore Eleanor Monyek had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Nina Sarros added 6 points, all in the second quarter, and sophomore Lanie Randle had 5 rebounds.Turnovers and third-quarter offensive issues continue to hamper the Red Devils, who appeared to have momentum at halftime after battling back from 10-2 and 17-10 deficits.“(The Falcons) want to speed you up and play a little chaotic. To their credit, they worked their game plan perfectly and we played right into it,” Hinsdale Central coach Karen Persinger said. “The turnovers, they’re really just an obstacle for us to have an offensive possession. When we broke the press, there were easy opportunities on the back side when we were patient. The second half, we just couldn’t seem to find our recovery.” Both teams showed good energy for a 10:30 a.m. start and even after what Hyde said wasn’t the Falcons’ best pregame walk-through at 8:30 a.m. Hubbard and Brown scored the first two baskets of the third quarter before Hyde’s first of two 3s in the period opened a 28-22 advantage. The Falcons ended the quarter with Hubbard scoring inside off a Simon pass and a late Caroline Garner 3 to lead 38-27.“I know I need to score, do what we need to do. I just run the offense and take what the defense gave me,” Hyde said. “As soon as I see the ball with the next person, if it’s there (to shoot), it’s there. If it’s not, drive it to the hole and kick.” The Falcons led by double digits throughout the fourth quarter. Leading 40-29, one possession lasted 1:48 to the 2:00 mark. Simon followed with two free throws with 1:18 to go.