Bohmer, Wheaton North spoil WW South's tribute to retiring coach Kroehnke

If hugs were points, Wheaton Warrenville South would have won Saturday afternoon's girls basketball game by a large margin.

Marking the upcoming retirement of longtime coach Rob Kroehnke, the Tigers celebrated pregame and postgame. But visiting cross-town rival Wheaton North played spoiler during, scoring the game's final 12 points for a 41-32 DuKane Conference victory in Wheaton.

"It hasn't really set in. It's starting to," said Kroehnke, the recipient of most of those hugs, many of them from former players who returned just for the occasion. "... It's sort of like senior night. You don't think about it until it's almost there. It's starting to hit me, but it's been so much fun. I wouldn't change a thing, that's for sure."

While racking up nearly 400 victories for WW South over 22 seasons, Kroehnke also coached seventh-grade girls for 33 years at nearby Edison Middle School in Wheaton, where he teaches. Assistant coach and alum Kasey Gassensmith will take over the WW South program next year.

After the game Kroehnke was presented with gifts of a specially made quilt, a golf bag and a framed, signed team jersey.

Even Wheaton North coach Tyler Bantz got caught in the moment a little bit.

"It's tough because I like him. A lot," said Bantz, in his first year coaching the Falcons (13-12, 4-6). "I've only met him a handful of times and I wanted to not like him, kind of build the rivalry in my head because I'm new to the rivalry. But he's a great guy and was super nice about everything right away."

It was a back-and-forth game, with 2 ties and 5 lead changes in the second half. WW South (7-18, 3-7) looked like it might take control when it took a 32-29 lead midway through the fourth quarter on an Ella Crawford 3-pointer and a layup that Hannah Struebing muscled in.

But Falcons junior Zoey Bohmer could not be stopped. She scored 26 of the Falcons' 41 points, including all 15 of Wheaton North's fourth-quarter points. Bohmer made four 3-pointers.

"She's hitting shots," Bantz said. "She's really good. She's gotten a lot better this year and has kind of taken on that kind of secondary scoring role for us. When she gets going outside she can hit a handful of them, and obviously she did it in the fourth quarter.

"But I didn't realize we scored the last 12. That's definitely a credit to our defense down the line. We've been struggling a little bit defensively and today was definitely a grind-it-out game. But to hold them scoreless the last four or five minutes, that's big."

"Obviously, we're keeping an eye on (Falcons leading scorer Sara) Abdul, right? We're trying to limit her touches," Kroehnke added. "But they found (Bohmer) and she converted. I mean, I don't feel like I saw her miss and if she did they probably got an offensive rebound."

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