WHEATON – The Wheaton Academy girls basketball team started slow against host St. Francis on Friday in Suburban Christian Conference Blue action.
But the Warriors heated up in the second quarter and exploded in the third to cruise to a 52-35 victory.
The Warriors lost to the Spartans by the same 17-point margin, 47-30, in December.
“Turnabout is fair play, I guess,” said Warriors’ coach Beth Mitchell. “Our team chemistry is finally coming along. I felt we turned the corner over Christmas at the Lisle Tournament.
“Things are just starting to click for us a bit more. Playing together as a team makes all the difference in the world, and you saw that tonight.”
Wheaton Academy (6-14, 2-4 SCC Blue) scored 20 points in the third quarter, turning a tight 15-11 lead into a comfortable 35-22 advantage.
Wheaton Academy built its lead to 43-29 early in the fourth quarter on a Christina Garrison basket.
St. Francis tried to mount a comeback, but another Garrison basket and freshman Jamie Netzley hit three of four free-throw attempts put the game away, 50-31, with 21⁄2 minutes left to play.
“It feels good to get a win over our rival school at their place after they beat us earlier in the year at our place,” said Warriors’ junior guard and St. Charles resident Abby Olson, who scored 11 points.
“We came out of halftime with more energy. We knew what we had to do, which was play better defense and run our offense better. We did that in the second half.”
Wheaton Academy made 18 of its 26 free throws, while St. Francis (10-10, 5-2) struggled, going 10 for 30.
“We usually shoot a lot better than that from the line,” said Spartans’ coach Mike Phillips. “We couldn’t get a shot to go. Things got away from us there in the third quarter.
“Wheaton Academy played really well. They came ready to play. We made a couple of nice runs, but we couldn’t finish off our runs.”
St. Francis led 9-3 late in the first quarter before Wheaton Academy scored the last basket of the quarter before running off eight more points to take a 13-9 lead in the second.
The Spartans’ first basket of the second did not come until 20 seconds left in the half, and scored by Kate Slattery, to cut the lead to 13-11.
The Warriors matched the basket with one of their own, as Garrison hit a shot at the buzzer for a 15-11 Wheaton Academy lead.
Netzley led all scorers with 19, and Garrison scored nine points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
“I am really proud of the girls,” Mitchell said. “The girls did a great job on both ends of the floor. When the ball goes in the hole and you play good defense, you are bound to win some games.”
Slattery led St. Francis with points 12 points.