Meghan Waldron has probably been asked about her team’s injuries about 1,000 times this season.
It was hard to avoid that theme Tuesday.
And once again, Waldron and Wheaton Warrenville South won a game of attrition.
With both teams missing two injured starters, the No. 4 Tigers built a 14-point lead on Fenwick through three quarters, then held on for a 65-63 win in Wheaton.
WW South (22-3) lost Sierra Bisso to a torn ACL last Thursday, joining Maggie Dansdill on the shelf.
The Tigers just keep winning.
“The whole year we keep talking about injuries, but we still have girls who can play,” said Waldron, who scored 22 points with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. “Melinda (Franke), Olivia (Linebarger), Allie (Zappia), they’ve been with us all year and they deserve attention. We want to win for Maggie and Sierra.”
The Tigers are used to playing short-handed, but seeing their opponent do the same is new. Fenwick (20-4) was without standout junior point guard Jade Owens (knee tendinitis) and sophomore guard Jennifer Mackowiak.
“That changed things up a little bit,” admitted WW South’s Diamond Thompson. “It was like we had talked about (Owens) all week, watched film, why isn’t she playing?”
The Friars, as reliant on the 3-point shot as any team around, made just 5 of 23 through three quarters and trailed 52-38 heading into the fourth. Then they got hot. Fenwick made four 3s in the fourth quarter, a 3 from freshman Deja Cage pulling the Friars within 63-62.
After Waldron split a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds left, Cage missed a long 3, and Eva Brundage missed a contested shot in front of the basket as time expired.
“I thought we made a great comeback,” said Fenwick coach Dave Power. “It’s a little discombobulated when you take two kids out.”
“We started off really well and then I think we got a little tired,” Waldron said. “They run like no team I’ve ever played against.”
Waldron got a big assist from Thompson.
Playing against a Fenwick team whose tallest starter is 5-foot-10, the 6-4 Thompson scored a personal-high 25 points to go with 8 rebounds. Most of those points came on layups, after Waldron and Co. had broken Fenwick’s pressure. Thompson’s three-point play with 46.8 seconds left momentarily stemmed Fenwick’s comeback.
“We knew they were height-challenged, so they tried to feed me the ball,” said the Notre-Dame bound Thompson. “We all had to step up. We had another girl (Bisso) just go down.”
“You get a team that runs and shoots a lot of 3s, it’s not a great matchup for Diamond,” WW South coach Rob Kroehnke said. “She had to work really hard to get up and down the floor so much. If you’re going to pressure us, we’re just going to put her on the block.”
WW South never trailed, scoring the game’s first 8 points. Waldron’s floater got the lead to double figures at 16-6, it was 20-11 after a quarter and 36-28 by halftime.
Linebarger scored 11 points and Franke grabbed 10 rebounds for WW South. Maya Garland scored 14 points, MacKenzie Sewall 13 and Cage 11 for Fenwick.
“This is why we play Fenwick at this time of year,” Kroehnke said. “I told the girls before the game this is a game we just need to go out and play. It can only help us, win or lose. For them to go out and fight the way they did, it was fun.”
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