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Glenbard North grinds out win against West Aurora

01/24/2013, 10:14pm CST
By Paul Johnson

Despite losing by a combined 39 points the first two times the teams played, Glenbard North hung on for a gritty 46-44 win Thursday against host West Aurora.

West Aurora girls basketball coach Connie Siljendahl talked to her team before Thursday’s DuPage Valley Conference game against Glenbard North about how difficult it is to beat a team three times in a season, which the Blackhawks were attempting to do against the Panthers.

As it turned out, her concern was legitimate.

Despite losing by a combined 39 points the first two times the teams played, Glenbard North hung on for a gritty 46-44 win Thursday.

“It’s good to see improvement and doing what we had to do to win,” Glenbard North senior Amy Falson said. “I think we’ve improved a lot.”

The big difference this time around was on the boards. The Panthers (9-12 overall, 6-4 DVC) took advantage of two key absences in the post for West (9-12, 3-7), Liz Skaggs (broken hand) and Kyler Robinson (illness), to dominate the glass. Six-foot-2 senior Katie Wisniewski hauled down 11 rebounds for the Panthers as they held a nine-rebound advantage in the win.

“That was the difference in the first two games,” Glenbard North coach John Chamberlain said. “They crash hard. Keeping them off the boards was key.”

That didn’t mean that the Blackhawks didn’t make things interesting in the final minutes. They forced 20 Glenbard North turnovers to offset some of the rebounding edge and hit some clutch shots to hang around. Falson’s three-pointer with three minutes left gave the Panthers at 41-34 lead, but West came back.

Abriya Zeitz scored five points in a span of about five seconds and then Alexis Wiggins drilled a three-pointer to pull the Blackhawks even at 42-42 with 59 seconds left.

“We had our opportunities,” West coach Connie Siljendahl said. “I was really proud of them that they came back and tied it up. (There were) just a couple more things that we didn’t get. We just couldn’t quite finish it off.”

Two free throws apiece from Falson and Laila Pickens sealed the win in the final minute for Glenbard North. They led the Panthers in scoring in the win, too. Pickens scored 12 points and Falson 10. Jennifer Deegan and Wisniewski each scored nine points.

“(The free throws) were all mental and hitting those were big things and I’m proud that we got through that test,” Falson said.

Zeitz led all scorers with 14 points for West Aurora. Wiggins added 10 points.

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