It may not have been pretty basketball for all 32 minutes, but the final four were worth the wait.
Wheaton Norths boys team notched its second win of the season over cross-town rival Wheaton Warrenville South, wrapping up the first half of DuPage Valley Conference play with Fridays 37-35 thriller over the visiting Tigers.
The Falcons (7-7, 2-5) led virtually the entire way until four straight free throws by WW Souths Michael Kramer tied the game at 35 with 1:16 left. A perfectly drawn up play led to Wheaton Norths Mitch Vosberg feeding a post pass to Jake Heggeland for a layup that put the Falcons back on top at 37-35.
Three straight missed free throws by Wheaton North kept the Tigers (3-12, 1-6) in the hunt, but a 3-point attempt in the final 10 seconds just rimmed out. WW South grabbed a defensive rebound in the waning seconds but couldnt get a decent shot off as time expired.
Its the Wheaton rivalry, its always a good experience to play them, said Falcons junior Matt Biegalski. Theyre not going to go away. Theyre Wheaton South and were North. Itll be a dogfight for four quarters.
After the Falcons led by double digits in the first half, a steal and basket by Jaylen Howze put the advantage at 33-26 early in the fourth quarter. WW South responded with Matt Kienzles 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by Keishawn Watson to climb right back.
As strong as the rally was, however, the Tigers simply couldnt string together enough successful possessions.
You have to put yourself in the position before you can succeed in it, said Tigers coach Bob Szorc. We havent been in that situation in a while. I like the shots we got. If it goes down its a different story, but give them credit.
Defense dominated the night, but so did poor shooting. Wheaton North made 25 percent of its shots in the final three quarters while the Tigers were 12 of 42 for the game.
Biegalski led all scorers with 12 points while Andrew Zelis had 9 points. Heggelands lone basket of the night was pivotal, but he also added a key rebound and blocked shot in the final minute.
Kramers 11 points paced WW South. Kienzles 8 points came in the second half.
Wheaton South hangs around and hangs around, and keeps the score down, said Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann. But we executed down the stretch. Were trying to get better a little bit at a time.
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