Ashley Collins of Maine West,left, and Brooke Schanowski of Wheaton north go for a rebound. this took place during the Wheaton North vs. Maine West girls basketball game at McDonalds Shootout at Willowbrook Saturday.
Paul Michna | Staff Photographer
Whatever went down in Wheaton Norths practice Monday, its working.
Playing some of their best, most physical defense of the year, the No. 11 Falcons manhandled Maine West 53-29 on Saturday at the 23rd McDonalds Shootout at Willowbrook High School.
Wheaton North (15-6) shut down Maine West (7-13) in the first half, and the 29 points were the fewest the Falcons have surrendered this season.
We came out and got after them, said Falcons senior point guard Reilly Stewart, who scored 14 points. We turned defense into offense.
Wheaton North has been able to win for much of the season by simply outscoring teams. Defense, a calling card for the Falcons under coach Dave Eaton, hasnt been a particular strength, giving up more than 50 points a game. It might have hit rock bottom last week, giving up 79 in a loss to Metea Valley and 57 in a bad loss to Wheaton Warrenville South.
Wheaton North found its answers in practice Monday. Not one basketball was shot in a defensive, drill-intensive workout.
I think for most of the season we thought we could beat teams by outscoring them and we got away from doing what we want to do defensively, Eaton said. We had to buy in on defense again and refocus. Weve had back-to-back very good games defensively this week.
Were forgetting about last week, Stewart said. There was a lot of energy in practice Monday. It was fun.
Mandy Traversa, in somewhat of a shooting slump of late after a red-hot December, missed her first 7 shots Saturday and scored 8 points. Eaton, though, was effusive in praising the seniors work defensively.
Mandys picked it up the last two games. Shes completely flipped the switch defensively, said Eaton, noting Traversas handful of steals Saturday. To see Mandy come out and play defense the way she has, that adds a completely new dimension to our team.
Neither team scored in the games first four minutes Saturday before Chrissy Baird broke through with a basket off an inbounds play. It was 8-0 at the quarter, and 25-13 at half, and Wheaton North blew it open with separate runs of 9-2 and 10-0 in the second half.
Baird, giving away a couple inches to Maine Wests post, had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Chrissys really been playing well for us, Eaton said. Shes been rotating well on defense and offensively shes been very consistent.
Maine West didnt score until Brittany Collins rolled in a turnaround jumper two minutes into the second quarter. Hall of Fame Warriors coach Derril Kipp was blunt in assessing how his team responded to Wheaton Norths physicality.
When their kids play harder than we do, we dont have a chance, Kipp said. We just didnt run our offense and we were kind of intimidated by how hard they play. When teams step up and are physical with us, our kids back down.
Collins and Alexia Prosperi each scored 10 points for Maine West, which had scored 53 points the night before in a 17-point win over Deerfield. Different game, different opponent, different gym.
In this tournament, in this gym, theyre going to let teams play, Kipp said. It was much more physical than last nights game.
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