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Wheaton Warrenville South was in a sharing mood before Thursday night’s game with Wheaton North, with the underclassmen relating fun facts to the crowd about the graduating seniors.
The DuPage Valley Conference title they kept for themselves.
Meghan Waldron had 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists to lead the host Tigers to a 64-41 victory over their crosstown rivals and cap a perfect conference season.
WW South (25-2, 14-0) now has won three straight DVC titles for the first time in school history, but the previous two were shared with Naperville Central.
Wheaton North, which won a piece of the DVC crown in 2009 and 2010, would have shared this year’s championship had they won this game.
“It really means the world because we won it the past two years but we shared it,” WW South senior Allie Zappia said. “This year we didn’t want to share it, so it was a great win for us.”
The Tigers, who went undefeated in DVC play for the first time since 1997, extended their winning streak to 11 and did it with great defense and rebounding.
Zappia and fellow forward Melinda Franke dominated the glass, with each securing five offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone as the Tigers staked themselves to an 18-10 lead. It was a sign of things to come as South outrebounded the Falcons 38-14, including 19-5 on the offensive end.
“We had a defensive focus and we just wanted to get as many boards as we can because we can control that,” said Zappia, who had six points and seven rebounds. “I really think it’s the effort that we put out there.
“We’re just taught to never let up and we’re taught that defense is the one thing we can always give 100 percent effort. Sometimes your shot won’t fall but you can always give 100 percent on ‘D.’”
Waldron followed that script well. She had an off night by her high standards, making 7-of-16 shots, but helped disrupt the Falcons offensive efforts, especially in the second half.
“My shots weren’t falling, but I just tried to play really good defense and then my teammates were making shots and playing great defense,” the DePaul commit said.
Wheaton North (20-7, 12-2), which had won seven straight games since a 57-42 home loss to the Tigers on Jan. 12, made a run after intermission as Mandy Traversa made a three-pointer and Reilly Stewart scored on a layup to pull the Falcons within 34-28 early in the third quarter.
The visitors stayed within six points until Kelly Langlas sank a trey and Olivia Linebarger scored on a drive late in the third quarter, which ended with WW South ahead 47-38. The Tigers then put the game out reach by scoring the first 10 points of the fourth quarter, during which they outscored the Falcons 17-3.
“I am at a loss on what these kids have done this year,” WW South coach Rob Kroehnke said. “It’s been absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how well we’ve played defense.
“We took their best shot there in the third quarter and we got it back up to nine and took a deep breath and we were fine.”
Franke was the one who needed a breather, so Kroehnke called a third-quarter timeout. Franke, who had a game-high 13 rebounds, seven of them offensive, held Traversa in check for the second time this season.
Traversa scored seven of her 13 points early in the third quarter but was held to just one shot in the fourth quarter.
“Melinda two games in a row has stopped that Mandy Traversa,” Waldron said. “I don’t know how she does it, but she goes through picks and picks and picks, it’s crazy. She does cross-country and she said she was tired, so that’s how much she was doing.”
Langlas had 11 points and four assists for the Tigers, while Diamond Thompson added 10 points and six blocks and Linebarger chipped in eight points and three assists.
Stewart finished with nine points and Jessica Beamon had six points for the Falcons, who made only 2 of 14 free throw attempts.
“We just didn’t play real well,” said Wheaton North coach David Eaton, whose team could face the Tigers again in the Bartlett Sectional final. “I thought we played tight, we played a little too nervous because we knew what was at stake.
“They’re a great team and obviously 14-0 for a reason, but I think we can play better than that and hopefully we’ll see them again and give them a better game.”
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