ST. CHARLES – Clinging to a one-point lead over St. Charles East in the final minute and a half, Wheaton North’s girls basketball team suffered a significant loss when senior guard Claire Hyde was whistled for her fifth foul.
However, freshman Sara Abdul was up to the moment.
Celebrating her 15th birthday, Abdul scored eight of her 13 points over the final 52 seconds during the Falcons’ 47-42 DuKane Conference victory Thursday night in St. Charles.
After the Saints (10-3, 3-3) grabbed their first lead of the game on Torrie Kortan’s basket with 1:03 remaining, Abdul dribbled the length of the floor to convert a layup to put the Falcons up for good at 40-39.
“It was a very physical game, a little heart wrenching at times, too, but this kid (Abdul) made a lot of huge plays down the stretch,” Falcons coach Dave Eaton said. “It probably went unnoticed, but she also made a big steal when we were up by three late in the game.
“I thought her last four minutes were some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I was really impressed.”
Abdul also hit six consecutive free throws in the final 35 seconds to help preserve the win for the Falcons (14-4, 6-1). She was clearly ready to step up after Hyde fouled out with 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I practice (shooting) free throws a lot,” Abdul said. “I know Claire is one of our strongest players — she’s our point guard. She’s a very important person for the team but I knew I could just step up because I’ve done it many times.”
“This wasn’t the first time she has come through in the clutch for us,” Eaton said. “She hit a 3-pointer when we were down by four against Willowbrook (at the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic). She gets better and better every game.
“I’m proud of her and I’m proud of our team. We knew this was going to be tough coming in here.”
Eden Pearson added 10 points and five rebounds, while Lindsey Shanahan had eight points for the Falcons, who led 21-15 at halftime and by as many as 12 points on two occasions in the third quarter.
Cali Papez and Kortan paced the Saints with 13 points apiece, while Emma Yakey added eight points.
“I would say there was some stuff outside of our control, but it was a great game,” said Saints interim coach Josh Foster, whose team played its second game in more than three weeks. “We’re still trying to find our footing out there. We just kept battling. We fell a little bit short, but tomorrow is another day. I’m really proud of the girls and the way they played.”
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