For WW South, victory is worth the wait
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It seemed like Michael Kramer stood at the free-throw line for an eternity.
That was fine with the Wheaton Warrenville South senior basketball player.
Kramer's 6-point play in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference-maker in a 43-37 DuPage Valley Conference victory for the host Tigers over Wheaton North in the third meeting between the cross-town rivals.
After Wheaton North (11-16, 3-11) claimed victory in the first two games, the Tigers (7-20, 3-11) pulled one out on senior night.
"I'm happy for our seniors," said WW South coach Bob Szorc. "Regardless of the score, our kids continue to battle, and that's important. We were somehow able to get those stops when we needed them. That's taken a season for us to get, but I'm extremely proud of the kids."
WW South trailed 35-32 with less than three minutes left when Kramer tipped in a basket and was fouled after the shot. He hit both ends of the 1-and-1 and, after a technical foul called on the Falcons, Kramer hit two more free throws.
By the time the possession ended, Kramer turned a 3-point deficit into a 38-35 lead. A missed Wheaton North 3-pointer led to Kramer's clutch free throw with 39.5 seconds left that boosted the advantage to two possessions.
Andrew Zelis, who scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Wheaton North, scored to make it 39-37 but an Aidan Hernandez breakaway layup and another pair of free throws by Kramer sealed the Tigers' victory.
Kramer scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, including 7-of-8 free-throw shooting.
"We did a good job when they got the lead, we stopped it so they couldn't get too far ahead," Kramer said. "It feels great to win this one. I'm going to miss playing against them, I've got some good friends on that team. But this one felt especially good on senior night."
Wheaton North stretched its lead to as much as 5 points six times, including the final time on a Zelis basket with five minutes left in the game. The Tigers, however, held the Falcons scoreless for the next four-and-a-half minutes while rallying.
WW South closed the game with a 13-2 run.
"You can't really give up a 6-point play in the fourth quarter of a game that's going to be decided by a couple possessions," said Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann. "Very disappointing. Unfortunately after a lot of the good things we did throughout the game, this certainly leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth right now."
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