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Wheaton North’s girls basketball team prides itself on playing up-tempo basketball.
After a long holiday break, however, the Falcons found themselves slowed down to a pace they weren’t comfortable with in the first half of Saturday’s DuPage Valley Conference showdown at Naperville Central.
In the third quarter, however, the Falcons got going.
They doubled their scoring output from the first half in the third quarter alone, and then held off a late Naperville Central charge to post a 65-62 win and remain unbeaten in the DVC at 5-0.
“Usually that first game back, it takes a while to get your legs back into it,” Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said. “You can try to simulate game speed as much as you want, but you can’t always simulate that in practice. We like to play up-tempo, and we got slowed down.”
Central (16-3 overall, 3-2 DVC) held a 27-23 lead at the half, playing a slower pace than Wheaton North (12-4, 5-0) wanted to play. In the third quarter, however, the Falcons caught fire.
Mandy Traversa drilled three three-pointers in the period, and overall, the Falcons went 5-for-7 from the arc to double their first-half offensive output and take a 46-45 lead after three quarters.
“We came out a little timid and shaky at first, but we settled down and we were just playing our game,” Traversa said. “Our game is scoring 20 in a quarter. From there, it was all momentum toward us.”
Central put up its best charge in the fourth quarter. The Redhawks went on a 6-0 run, three free throws from Victoria Trowbridge and a three-point play from Cierra Stanciel, to take a 58-52 lead with 3:25 left.
It only took Wheaton North 1:11 to get the lead back, however. Reilly Stewart and Kelly Thornton hit three-pointers, followed by two Chrissy Baird free throws, and the Falcons never trailed again.
“This is the third time (this season) where we’ve had a reasonable lead (and lost),” Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. “We had a six-point lead with three minutes to go. We’re not closing games. We had some serious defensive lapses there where they got two threes. You’re not going to win games when the other team scores 42 points in a half, I don’t care who you are.”
Jamie Cuny led four Redhawks in double figures with 17 points. Shannon Ryan added 14 points and seven assists, Trowbridge had 11 points and nine rebounds and Laura Dierking scored 10. Traversa led Wheaton North with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Baird added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Stewart scored 12.
It’s still early in the DVC race, but Wheaton North has set a nice tone with a 5-0 start to the slate.
“Our main goal is to win this thing,” Traversa said. “This is our biggest rivalry. Just beating them at their place is a huge accomplishment for us.”