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Stewart, Wheaton North jet past Downers North
By Joshua Welge | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/26/2012 10:49 PM

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Don’t blink, or Reilly Stewart is by you.

Wheaton North’s 5-foot-3 head-banded blur is the engine for one of the area’s highest-octane offenses, and she was at it again Wednesday.

Stewart scored 7 points and dished out 7 assists in about three quarters of action, and No. 2-seeded and 14th-ranked Wheaton North used a big run in each half to fly past Downers Grove North 60-32 in first-round action at the Bill Neibch Falcon Holiday Classic.

Falcons coach Dave Eaton calls Stewart a “jet” and the best point guard he’s had at Wheaton North.

Others have taken notice.

“(Wheaton Warrenville South coach) Rob Kroehnke, he told me when he first saw Reilly play, ‘You need a seat belt with that kid,’” Eaton said. “She is just so fast and advances the ball so quickly.”

Stewart and the Falcons (9-3) gained separation with a 15-0 run spanning the first and second quarters, taking a 29-11 lead on a pair of Brooke Schanowski free throws. Downers Grove North (5-9) crept back to within 34-22 two minutes into the third quarter, but Wheaton North applied the knockout courtesy of a 17-0 spurt.

“This year, we just want to get out and run. Our defense becomes our offense and it’s a lot of fun,” Stewart said. “We were a little gassed, but we had good spurts here and there. First game, and now we move on.”

Count Trojans coach Stephan Bolt as sold on the Falcons.

“They really get out in transition. We haven’t played a team that pushes it like that,” Bolt said. “They just don’t stop either.”

It didn’t help that the Trojans were short-handed. Peyton Winters, a 6-2 sophomore and the team’s best post player, hurt her hand in practice last week and was in a cast, awaiting an MRI to see if there is a fracture. It’s been that kind of year for the injury-ravaged Trojans.

Colleen Honn scored 11 points and Sarah Costello 7 for the Trojans, who started two freshmen.

“We went on a little run to start the second half, and then (Wheaton North) answered with their own run and we just couldn’t match that,” Bolt said. “I’m proud of my girls. We continue to get better. We’re really young. We have a lot of girls with high ceilings who are learning the game.”

Eaton, on the other hand, might be further buoyed that his team was able to win going away with a pedestrian day from Mandy Traversa. The Falcons senior had scored 20 or more points in her last four games but managed just 11 on 4-for-12 shooting in 17 minutes. Chrissy Baird added 10 points and 7 rebounds and Schanowski 7 points, 11 Falcons scoring.

“We were a little rusty, a little rough around the edges,” Eaton said, “but the shooting was there in spurts.”

Wheaton North seems poised to make a run at winning its tournament for the first time since 1991, but Thursday will be a big hurdle. Hersey, a 4:30 p.m. opponent, has beaten the Falcons two of the last three years, including a double-overtime semifinal thriller in 2010.

“This is the best team we’ve had here in a long long time. Offensively, we just have so many kids who can score,” Eaton said. “We’re focused on Hersey now. That’s a very big game for us.”

Follow Josh on Twitter@jwelge96