Falcons test Tigers in first sectional final since 1986
BARTLETT — Standing outside the locker room after addressing his 2012-13 Wheaton North girls basketball team for the final time last Thursday night, Dave Eaton couldn't help but smile when talking about his players.
Yes, the 53-45 defeat to Wheaton Warrenville South in the Class 4A Bartlett sectional final was disappointing, especially after the Falcons jumped out to a 12-0 lead.
But what Wheaton North accomplished as a whole this winter will reverberate far longer than the team's third loss to the Tigers this season.
"I'm so proud of this team," Eaton said. "They are so unselfish. It doesn't matter to them who scores, all they care about is winning by one or two points. This is the furthest we've been since 1986 and that says a lot about the character of this team.
"Win or lose, this group took our program to among one of the best in the state of Illinois this year."
Leading the way was a senior class that numbered five, many of whom were varsity mainstays. Needless to say, it will be tough to replace the group of Reilly Stewart, Brooke Schanowski, Brittany Norris, Jessica Beamon and Mandy Traversa, the latter of whom went over the 1,000-point plateau for her career in the final game.
"Our seniors are fantastic," the coach said. "They have done great things for our program. Those are some wonderful, wonderful kids and they have done a great job representing what we try to pride ourselves on."
The Falcons wrapped up the year with a record of 23-8, with five of those losses coming to teams that participated in a sectional final (Wheaton Warrenville South, Rolling Meadows and Neuqua Valley).
"Hands down, it is one of the best season we've had," Eaton said.
As for the matchup with Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North looked to be in a good position after jumping out to an 18-5 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
But the Tigers slowly crawled their way back, slicing the deficit to 23-20 by halftime before taking their first lead of the game with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter. The score would end up being tied at 32 apiece heading to the fourth where Wheaton Warrenville South opened the frame with a 10-0 run to seize control.
Offensive rebounds again were the Falcons' nemesis as the Tigers grabbed 17 to just four for Wheaton North.
"I think we came out a little bit intimidated against them the last couple games, wondering are we as good as they are," Eaton said. "This time, I think we showed we can play with them.
"But their kids fought for it. They didn't shoot the ball real well but they hurt us on the boards. They executed down the stretch, hit the boards hard and did what they needed to do."
Wheaton Warrenville South standout guard Meghan Waldron, who led all scorers with 15 points, has great respect for the Falcons.
"Wheaton North is a great team first of all," Waldron said. "They came out shooting it. I've never seen a team play with as much emotion as Wheaton North did."
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