WHEATON – Playing host once again to the 30th annual Bill Neibch Holiday Classic was special enough to Dave Eaton and his Wheaton North girls basketball team.
The Falcons’ 3-1 record and fifth place tourney finish turned out to be icing on the cake.
“It’s a great tournament and our athletic director [Matt Fisher] does a great job running it,” Eaton said. “And obviously we get a lot of help from other people. The coaches seem to really enjoy it and the kids seemed like they enjoyed it.
“Overall, it was very competitive across the board, and most of the games were close.”
Wheaton North ended the four-day event with a 60-43 win over Glenbard South on Saturday.
On Friday, the Falcons beat Glenbrook South 63-59, which came on the heels of a 68-57 loss to Downers Grove North in the second round. Wheaton North started the tourney with a 70-49 win over Elk Grove on Dec. 23.
“I’m really excited with how the kids played,” Eaton said. “There was one game where we didn’t execute well, but a lot of credit goes to Downers Grove North. They are a good team and they finished third.
“We are starting to take steps in the right direction. It was nice to see us bounce back against a good Glenbrook South team. We lost to them in the championship last year.”
Individually, Chrissy Baird and Kelly Thornton were selected to the all-tournament team.
“I think a lot of people knew coming into this year that Chrissy would be a force to be reckoned with,” the coach said. “She’s been unanimous all-conference the last two years. And Kelly had a phenomenal year last year, she was just a little overshadowed by Mandy [Traversa] making 97 threes. Kelly was close to breaking school records herself.
“Kelly has grown leaps and bounds from last year. Last year, she was basically a shooter and scorer from the perimeter. This year, she has put up over 20 points in four or five games already. That’s more of a scorer than just a shooter.”
Wheaton North will take a record of 9-6 into 2014.
“I’m excited about where we are at,” Eaton said. “And as one coach said at our tournament, we are already tournament tested. All of our losses have come against really good teams.”
The Falcons are off from game action this week and will return to the court Jan. 9 against Glenbard East.
“It’s nice for them to get off their feet for a few days,” Eaton said, “but we’ve already talked to the girls about being ready when they come back. Glenbard East is much improved and they are very athletic.”
Wheaton North 60
Glenbard South 43
Wheaton North top scorers
• Chrissy Baird, 12 points
• Emari Jones, 10 points
• Emmy Gryna, 10 points
• Maggie Will, 10 points
North all-tournament players
• Chrissy Baird
• Kelly Thornton