Wheaton North forges 3-way tie for DuKane lead

The DuKane Conference race looked tight going into the season, and heading into the last week it's proven to be that and then some with a three-way tie for first place.

Wheaton North forged a three-way tie for first by beating conference-leading St. Charles North on Tuesday. Through Wednesday's action, the North Stars are 7-2, with both losses to the Falcons who along with Geneva also is 7-2.

Junior Claire Hyde leads the way for Wheaton North. She began the week shooting 42.2% from the field and 40.5% from the 3-point arc with 32 makes. She's averaging 21 points a game.

Julia Simon provides the defense and has matched up with, among others, Naperville Central's Gabi Melby, St. Charles North's Emma Ludwig, Glenbard North's Justina Hernandez, Geneva's Kate Palmer and Batavia's Brooke Carlson. Those five players have combined for more turnovers than points against Simon, who has held them to an average of 6 points per game. She also has 43 steals in 9 games.

"Everyone knows Julia for what a tremendous defender she is," Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said. "Those are some top-notch players and not one of them has scored in double digits against her. Plus, those kids don't turn the ball over like that against hardly any other player."

Offensively, Simon averages 8.7 points, leads the team in assists and has 34 offensive rebounds despite standing 5-foot-6.

"I think Julia is no doubt a game changer on the defensive side of the ball and her offensive numbers are not too shabby for a Division I soccer kid," Eaton said.

Clutch shot:

West Chicago pulled out a 49-48 win over Fenton on Tuesday thanks to some last-second heroics. Senior Sadie Obenauer hit a short jumper off an assist from senior Shailee Patel with 5 seconds left to give the visiting Wildcats the come-from-behind win. Obenauer scored 15 points and junior Emily Toran had 14.

Bad luck:

Downers Grove North and York have more in common besides heading into the fifth week of the season undefeated.

Both of those talented teams have had much of their schedule wiped out because of COVID. The Trojans began the week 3-0; the Dukes 4-0.

Junior Ryan Wendt has been a standout for the Trojans, averaging 11 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals while not playing many minutes because of lopsided scores.

Both teams hope to make up as many games as possible before the season ends March 13.

Chaparro's close:

After double checking records from previous coaches, St. Francis coach Jeff Gerdeman realized senior Kate Chaparro is much closer to 1,000 points than previously thought. The previous totals did not include the postseason. Add in those points and instead of being 71 points away, Chaparro entered Thursday's game against Aurora Christian just 16 points from 1,000.

The Spartans host Aurora Christian Thursday and play at Wheaton Academy on Saturday before concluding the season with three home games next week. Chaparro is averaging 12 points a game.

Tournament time:

The ESCC ends its season next week with a year-end conference tourney. Athletic directors are meeting later this week and could change plans but for now it will be an 8-team tournament with brackets determined March 6 after the regular season.

Every team is guaranteed three games. Benet coach Joe Kilbride expects to be a one or two seed and have home games at 7 p.m. March 10, and 7:30 p.m. March 12, and also a final home game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday if the Redwings earn the No. 1 seed and keep winning.

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