Team effort lifts Wheaton North over Batavia
The two-time DuKane Conference Player of the Year, Claire Hyde, was without a made field goal as the final buzzer sounded.
Hyde, Wheaton North's senior guard, scored all five of her points from the free-throw line. It was a performance unlike any she had experienced at the high school level, but the Falcons - with a team effort - held off Batavia 39-35 in the Class 4A Bartlett sectional semifinal.
Wheaton North advances to face St. Charles East, which knocked off No. 1 seed Geneva in Tuesday's first semifinal.
"It was definitely a new situation, but we got the win, that's all I care about," Hyde said following her five-point, five rebound performance. "Points or not, Sara [Abdul] carried us; Caroline [Gaither]. I couldn't be more proud of this team. It's not all about me."
Batavia, though, wasn't "going to let the player of the year beat us."
"She didn't, unfortunately, they still were able to come out on top with her play knocking down those [free throws]," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen. "And us just missing out of a couple of our own plays ended up being the difference."
The Falcons (22-7) recently welcomed back senior guard Gaither, who was sidelined for nearly two months with a stress fracture in her right foot.
She returned in time for Wheaton North's playoff run.
Gaither scored 14 points and Abdul had 18.
The Falcons led 34-31 with 2:16 left in the game. Following Batavia guard Kylee Gehrt's missed three, Nicole McLaughlin grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and Carlson snuck in for a layup to make it a one-point game.
The ensuing possession on a Falcons drive to the hoop, Carlson was whistled for a costly blocking foul. Abdul hit both free throws to make it 36-33 Wheaton North with 1:16 left.
After both teams traded turnovers, Carlson missed a three with 22 seconds left and Hyde would later hit free throws to clinch the Falcons' sectional final appearance.
The late fourth quarter turnovers didn't help Batavia's cause, either.
"[We] had a couple late ones where we had the setup we liked and thought we had [Tessa Towers] for a look," Jensen said. "Just couldn't quite connect the way we wanted or get something rolling off the rim."
Batavia (19-15) was led by Carlson's 14 points and four rebounds. Towers had 12 points and five rebounds, while Addi Lowe had five points.