WHEATON – The only thing warmer than Wheaton Warrenville South’s crowded gymnasium Dec. 4 was Rowan McGowen.
The Wheaton North junior swingman treated the fans to a stunning shooting display, sinking his first six 3-point attempts en route to a career-high 26 points.
McGowen finished 7-of-8 from the floor and was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Luke Anthony added 19 points as the Falcons knocked off crosstown rival WW South 65-59 in a DuPage Valley Conference opener.
“It’s really nice,” McGowen said. “This is a game you circle on the calendar and it’s nice to go off against them.”
McGowen, who is averaging more than 20 points per game, sank five treys in a first quarter that saw the two teams combine to make 9 of 11 3-point tries. The quarter ended with the Falcons (5-0, 1-0) ahead 18-15 after a buzzer-beating trey from McGowen.
“He’s had some big games for us so far and it’s obviously great for him to get us started like that,” Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann said. “I think when they started focusing on him more other guys stepped up and that was great to see as well that we’re not a one-dimensional team and we’re able to make plays in different ways when they took him away a little.”
McGowen, whose only miss came in the final seconds of the first half, attempted only two shots in the second quarter and none in the third.
But the Tigers (4-1, 0-1) failed to take full advantage. They led 37-36 on Jeran Simpson’s free throw at the 1:47 mark of the third quarter, but the Falcons got a basket from Matt Giles and a 3 from Jack Bennett at the buzzer.
The Tigers pulled to within 47-44, but the 6-foot-5 McGowen responded by draining his only shot attempt of the second half, a 3 with 2:56 left, and South never got to within four points after that.
“Obviously we gave him too many looks,” South coach Mike Healy said. “Some of them were contested; some of them weren’t.
“You’ve got to give the kid credit. He shot the ball well. We’re not going to be able to play giving up that many 3s and be successful.”
This was the second time McGowen had seven 3s in a game, but he said this was one of his best shooting games. The same could be said of the Falcons, who combined to shoot 11-for-20 (55 percent) from beyond the arc.
“The second quarter they were face guarding me so we focused more on driving to the basket to open up my teammates, which is good,” McGowen said.
Eric Rasch had 15 points and seven rebounds and Matt Dacy-Seijo added 14 points, including four treys, to pace the Tigers.
“Our kids gave great effort,” Healy said. “Just can’t let McGowen do that.”
WWS/Wheaton North girls
In the DVC opener for both teams, the Tigers used a strong fourth quarter at both ends of the floor to earn a 46-42 win against the Falcons.
South trailed 32-31 entering the fourth quarter but pulled ahead thanks to Jayla Johnson and Erin Madigan. Johnson scored seven of her game-high 19 points in the fourth, and Madigan tallied all six of her points in the final frame. Sarah Struebing had seven points, and Mira Emma and Jayne Labelle scored six apiece.
Sarah Topps (14 points) and Nikki Baird (12 points) led the Falcons.
Gabriel Johnson scored a game-high 16 points as St. Francis held off Wheaton Academy’s comeback bid for a 50-48 win Dec. 7. The Spartans led 41-31 entering the final frame.
Nick Cooney and Tim Lilly scored eight points apiece for St. Francis.
Anthony Polinski (13 points), Thomas Blum (11 points) and Jameson Teuscher (10 points) all reached double figures for the Warriors.