Wheaton Warrenville South has been decimated by injuries this winter but the Tigers know they are going to get every team’s best shot, not their sympathy.
That was the case again Thursday night. WW South trailed for the entire first quarter but rallied to knock off visiting Glenbard East 51-31 in DuPage Valley Conference action in Wheaton.
Despite playing without three starters and their head coach, the Tigers (15-3, 6-0) were solid defensively and feel they are prepared for Saturday’s first-place showdown with crosstown rival Wheaton North (13-5, 6-0).
WW South has been playing without 6-4 senior center Diamond Thompson and senior playmaker Kelly Langlas, who have both been out with knee injuries, as well as key rebounder Maggie Dansdill. Langlas has been practicing and Thompson could be cleared next week, so the Tigers hope to have them back soon.
In the meantime, the others are doing their best.
“It’s tough but we just have to focus on who’s playing and how we’re going to win the game,” said junior forward Meghan Waldron. “It stinks everyone has gone out but you just have to keep going on. Every other week there’ someone else gone, so I think this is a challenge and we’re up for it and we’re doing well.”
But it was Glenbard East (2-14, 0-6) that did well in the early going, jumping out to a 10-4 lead as Rachael Leifheit scored five points, Kelly Eberle and Tajanae Key had layups and Allison Hansen drained a free throw.
But the hosts responded by scoring the last four points of the quarter, including a coast-to-coast layup by Waldron, to pull within two. That started a 13-0 run that saw the Rams go scoreless for 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
“Obviously I was a little concerned after the first quarter, but in the beginning of the second quarter we started playing more pressure and I feel like that was the turning point,” WW South junior forward Melinda Franke said. “That’s when we started scoring more is when we put pressure on defense.”
Indeed, the Tigers forced eight turnovers in the second quarter to pull ahead 26-17 at halftime, then slowly extended the lead after the break.
Waldron played her typical all-around game, scoring eight of her game-high 14 points in the second period. The junior finished with eight rebounds, five steals and three assists.
But the difference-maker was Franke, who contributed nine points and a career-high 15 rebounds, 10 less than the Rams had as a team. That included eight offensive boards.
“Meghan is going to give you a solid game,” said Tigers assistant coach Shelley Thompson, who is subbing for head coach Rob Kroehnke, who had surgery to repair a broken leg but hopes to return to the bench Saturday. “You know that’s going to happen, so it’s the other players that need to step up and they really did.
“We need other people to step up and do some things and Franke did a really nice job on the boards. She just dominated the boards and that’s what we needed.”
Sierra Bisso, Allie Zappia, Erin Zappia and Kimberly Hayes all had four points for the Tigers. Eberle paced the Rams with eight points, while Hansen had seven points and seven rebounds.