Wheaton North’s lead had been cut to two points when guard Kelly Thornton found herself open in the right corner.
Center Chrissy Baird quickly passed the ball to Thornton, who didn’t hesitate to fire up a three-pointer.
The shot went down with 1:30 remaining and Thornton ended up scoring her team’s final seven points as the visiting Falcons hung on to beat Naperville North 63-57 in a DuPage Valley Conference opener on Tuesday night.
“Yeah, I was just having the scorer’s mentality,” Thornton said. “I was just trying to keep our team cool, calm and collected in the pressure situations, so I just wanted to step up.”
The 5-10 junior did just that. She sank four three-pointers en route to a team-high 18 points. The last trey gave Wheaton North (3-3, 1-0) a 60-55 lead after Kayla Sharples had pulled Naperville North (3-3, 0-1) within a basket.
The host Huskies missed their final five shots from the field and Thornton split three pairs of free throws in the final 42 seconds to ice it.
Naperville North led by as many as six points in the first half before a layup from Emily Barry brought the Falcons within 30-27 at halftime. The visitors then outscored the Huskies 23-10 in the third quarter by making 7-of-10 field goal attempts, including five three-pointers.
Sophomore guard Emmy Gryna scored all of her 10 points in the period. She drained three consecutive treys, the first of which put Wheaton North ahead to stay at 30-29, during a 13-0 run that bridged intermission. Thornton assisted on all three of the treys.
“After halftime we just wanted to come out and make a push,” Thornton said. “We knew that the beginning of the third quarter was going to be a turning point in the game and so we wanted the momentum on our side.”
The 6-1 Baird made the outside shooting possible. She scored all of her 12 points in the first half, making her first five shots in the paint, and finished with 11 rebounds, six blocks. Her three assists came in the second half.
“When we got Chrissy inside, they collapsed on her and she kicked it out for threes,” Thornton noted.
In contrast, the Huskies never could find the range from the outside, making only 2-of-15 three-point attempts. They were 4-for-17 from the floor in the third quarter to fall 10 points behind.
“I thought we played well defensively for the first time,” Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton said. “We’ve been talking so much about defense and it’s coming.
“I thought we had a good third quarter defensively. Fourth quarter giving up 17 is a lot. We hung on enough to win.”
Sharples led the Huskies with 24 points, nine rebounds and four steals before fouling out with 17 seconds remaining. Lauren Pereira added 13 points and Katei Cores had eight points and nine boards for Naperville North. Point guard Emari Jones had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Falcons.