By Stan Goff
Daily Herald Correspondent
What Claire Hyde has accomplished on the basketball court for Wheaton North is quite impressive, but the way she acted during her crowning moment on Saturday was just as impressive.
When the Falcons senior guard knocked down a 3-point shot less than a minute into the second half, Wheaton North called a timeout to recognize the fact that Hyde had just broken the school record for most points scored in a career. But Hyde was not ready for a celebration, rather she wanted to get her team’s defense fired up for the next possession of the game.
There wasn’t much need to worry, after all, as Hyde’s shot put her team up 34-20 and they were well on their way to defeating their crosstown rivals 58-32. But it’s that extreme focus that has helped this 5-foot-4 dynamo pile up a historic total of points, as well as lead this year’s team to an 18-5 record and a 9-2 mark in the DuKane Conference.
“We called that timeout to congratulate her and she was like, ‘Hey we need to focus on getting a stop here.’ It just shows you what a great kid she is and what this whole team is focused on,” said Wheaton North coach Dave Eaton, who presented Hyde with the game ball following the win. “She’s just an all-around great player but also one of the best kids to ever where a Wheaton North jersey. She’s an unbelievable kid. As good a basketball player as she is she’s an even better person.”
Hyde doesn’t follow her individual stats very closely, but she was aware that she was within the school record of 1,381 points set by 2018 graduate Hannah Swider. She entered Saturday’s contest needing 13 points to set the record and tallied a game-high 12 through two quarters as the hosts built a 28-14 lead. Hyde hit on three shots from beyond the arch in the first half, showing off her range with a couple bombs from well beyond the line.
Having grown up on the south side of Wheaton, Hyde knows many of the Tigers players well and was even coached on a seventh-grade team by Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Kroehnke.
“It was crazy how it played out that it was that amount of points and it landed on this game,” said Hyde, who finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds. “I’ve always appreciated Kroehnke and all that he’s done for me. He’s always been such a role model in my life. I grew up on the South side so I obviously have a connection there.
“I did [know about the record] because my parents and the coaches were all talking about it. I was really nervous coming into this game, I’m not gonna lie. My stomach was turning but I was just focusing on getting the win and thinking let’s get another conference victory.”ADVERTISING
Hannah Struebing paced the Tigers (13-11, 2-8) with 14 points and Campbell Bastian added a trio of 3s, but the day belonged to Hyde and the Falcons.
“I got to coach Claire when she was in seventh grade, so I’m very happy for her,” Kroehnke said. “It’s well-deserved. I told her I hope I never have to coach against her again, but that I love you and I’m very happy for you.”