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Sometimes even WW South coach Rob Kroehnke can’t help but admire the way his team can smother an opponent.
“We can play defense, and when we do, it’s awful fun to watch,” he said.
No. 6 WW South (11-1) turned up the defensive pressure on Providence in the second half of the championship game of the Naperville North/Benet Tournament Saturday at Naperville, outscoring the Celtics 21-7 in the third quarter to wipe out a five-point deficit and roll to a 55-40 win.
Meghan Waldron led WW South with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Maggie Dansdill added 18 points. But it was the Tigers’ defensive effort that drew Waldron’s attention.
“We just fought that second half,” Waldron said. “That was all defense. We changed it up a little on offense. We switched up who was going to cut, and Melinda (Franke) played great defense. She always does. She did a great job on No. 23 (Providence’s Alyssa Jurges).
“I think our defense led to a lot of good offensive plays,” Waldron added.
Providence (10-4) closed the second quarter on a 12-4 run to grab a 29-24 lead at the break. A three-pointer by Jurges (12 points) got the Celtics even at 20, and another shot from distance by the 5-foot-8 junior gave Providence a 25-22 lead.
“We need to stay out of foul trouble, and unfortunately we got into a little pickle in the first half,” Kroehnke said. “They’re too good a shooting team to just sit back on, and we sort of got bitten in the first half.
“Second half, we didn’t foul as much and you can see the result,” he added. “We started the second half really well defensively. I thought we made some good stops and we got that momentum, and when this team gets that momentum we can put up some points really quick.”
Maeve Garvey added 10 points and Mary Fashingbauer and Marybeth Galick each had six points for Providence, which will take a few days off before participating in the Lincoln-Way East holiday tournament.
“I thought we fought really hard in the first half,” Providence coach Eileen Copenhaver said. “You could see in the third it started going their way a little bit. They controlled the boards, and when you control the boards, you control the tempo of the game.
”They’re a really nice basketball team,” she added. “Their interior passing was awesome and their point guard (Waldron) is obviously phenomenal. So it was a good basketball team. I wish we could have held it together just a little longer, but my kids fought really hard.”