NAPERVILLE – Emari Jones seems to have a knack for the big shot.
For the second time in the past month, the Wheaton North junior guard sank the game-winner for the Falcons, this time as the buzzer sounded in a 70-68 win over Naperville Central Saturday.
“She’s pretty fearless,” Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said of his junior point guard. “She wanted the ball and she knew what she was looking for. She definitely wants the ball late.”
Jones, who received a long pass from Maggie Will at the 3-point line with 2.7 seconds left on the clock, took one dribble and nailed a pull-up jumper to finish with 14 points, 12 of which came in the final three and a half minutes. She also added 16 rebounds.
Chrissy Baird scored a game-high 24 points and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career in the process. Heading into this week, she was second on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,014 points, trailing only Fantasia Vine (1,048). The Falcons had led by as many as 13 points early in the contest before watching the home team battle back.
“I think being tired was a part of it,” Eaton said. “We haven’t defended that well recently, but I thought the kids played really good defense in the first half. We had really challenged them after losing to West Aurora [on Feb. 6] to look in the mirror and make the changes we need to make to be successful.”
Losing leads has been an issue of late for North. Against West Aurora, the Falcons saw a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter disappear in an eventual loss, which virtually knocked the team out of the DVC race. The Falcons were outscored 31-12 in the final frame after entering with a 53-40 advantage.
“West Aurora has been playing well and they made some big shots,” Eaton said. “Give their kids credit. But when a team puts up 31 points in a quarter, obviously there are some flaws in the defense. But you still have to make the shots no matter what.
“For our kids to be in a similar situation Saturday and to be able to maintain their composure and get that win, that was big.”