The Wheaton North girls basketball team knew at halftime that it needed to add a spark to its offense during Saturday afternoon's game against host Naperville Central.
And did it ever.
The Falcons, who trailed 27-23 at halftime, exploded for 42 points during the final two quarters to edge the Redhawks 65-62.
The victory pushed Wheaton North to 12-4 overall, but more importantly kept them perfect in the DuPage Valley Conference at 5-0. Naperville Central dropped to 16-3, 3-2.
It was the first game of 2013 for both squads, and neither had seen any action since holiday tournaments wrapped up last weekend. Falcons coach Dave Eaton said that was a factor in Wheaton North's slow start offensively in the first half, when they shot 7-for-24 from the field.
"The first game back you are trying to get your legs back and you can't simulate game play in practice," he said. "It was slowed down in the first half and we were able to get an up-tempo speed in the second half, and that works for us."
Also working for Wheaton North was its 3-point shot. The Falcons hit for 10, including the most crucial two late in the fourth quarter.
With 3:29 left in the game, Naperville Central's Cierra Stanciel made good on a 3-point play to put the Redhawks up 58-52.
About half a minute later, Reilly Stewart, one of three Falcons to score in double digits with 12 points, hit her third and final 3-point basket of the afternoon to make it 58-55. Victoria Trowbridge hit a free throw to put the Redhawks up 59-55.
Wheaton North's Kelly Thornton sank a 3 to put the Falcons to within 1 at 59-58. Then a 3-point play by Chrissy Baird gave the Falcons a 60-59 advantage that they didn't give back, although Naperville Central cut it to 63-62 with under 10 seconds left.
The Falcons shot 8-for-12 from the field in the third quarter to lead 46-45 after it. Mandy Traversa sank three of the team's five 3-point baskets during that frame. She finished with a game-high 21 points and five 3-point baskets.
"We came out a litle timid and shaky. We settled down and played our game," Traversa said. Baird contributed 13 points.
Naperville Central enjoyed a strong game offensively with four players reaching double-digit point totals. Jamie Cuny led the Redhawks with 17 points. Shannon Ryan had 14 along with 8 assists. Trowbridge had 11 points and Laura Dierking 10.
Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum was more concerned with how the Redhawks responded defensively.
"You are not going to win many games when the other team scores 42 points in a half," he said. "We don't mind an up-tempo game. What costed us was the times we didn't get back on defense. We didn't play as well defensively.
"Wheaton North shot the ball well and they executed the things they were supposed to execute."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.