Girls basketball: Hallie Crane lifts Batavia in third quarter of win over St. Charles North

Batavia’s Hallie Crane (24) shoots the ball in the post against St. Charles North's Reagan Sipla (2) during a basketball game at Batavia High School on Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023.

BATAVIA – A torn left meniscus suffered over a year ago during volleyball season wasn’t going to deter Hallie Crane from coming back even stronger.

Now fully healthy and back on the court after missing all of last basketball season, the Batavia junior guard is able to showcase her impactful presence that can help swing games in the Bulldogs’ favor.

It starts with rebounding and court vision.

“My mom was telling me a story that ‘if you quit right now, you’re going to put down your basketball shoes forever,’ and I didn’t want that,” said Crane following Batavia’s 55-38 win over St. Charles North on Tuesday. " I just thought of all the memories I’ve had playing, and I didn’t want to give it up. Especially with this team.

“The group of girls, it’s like family to me.”

Crane had 12 points and a trio of rebounds.

“I really wanted to spend another year with the seniors we have. ...” Crane said. “I think I’m a pretty good rebounder and a pretty good post player. I can shoot sometimes when I am on, and I think that I have a good view of the court and find who is open.”

Crane’s effort certainly proved to be a difference, particularly in the third quarter with the Bulldogs nursing a 41-31 lead with under two minutes left. Crane exploded with a six-point run on her own to help break the game open with three consecutive layups to push Batavia ahead 47-31.

“She’s a difference-making player in what she provides for us,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “She’s got a little bit more length, [and] she’s good from 3-point land. She doesn’t necessarily put up the volume that some of our others do from [beyond the arc], but she sees the stuff so well on the floor, like where to cut.

“I’d love to say, ‘Hey, we drew all these things up.’ No, it’s a matter of conceptually playing with good space and cutting on those angles. She sees that so well, and she was putting herself in good positions, and people were making good passes to her. She was finishing. She was active. I thought she played good on defense. That’s another reason why she’s an important player for us: She can guard almost any position out there.”

Batavia (7-1, 2-0) built a commanding lead in the first quarter.

Senior standout guard Brooke Carlson (21 points) scored the first seven points of the game and helped build a 15-3 lead midway through the first quarter. The North Stars (6-1, 1-1) struggled with multiple turnovers in the opening frame and limped to a 25-13 first-quarter deficit.

St. Charles North's Reagan Sipla (2) shoots the ball in the post against Batavia’s Kylee Gehrt (21) 2during a basketball game at Batavia High School on Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023.

“It’s a difficult place to play. ...” North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. “[Batavia] comes out with a ton of energy and a ton of defensive intensity. That’s a caliber team that we haven’t seen yet this year, and that’s a great opportunity for us to measure where we need to grow and where we need to get better.

“Yes, they absolutely overwhelmed us in the first couple minutes, but I did think we settled down and were able to find our center, and really fought hard for the next two and a half quarters or so.”

The North Stars closed the third quarter on a small free-throw run led by Quinnipiac commit Reagan Sipla (16 points, three rebounds, three assists) to pull within 47-34. Crane and Sipla traded layups to open the final frame, but Carlson knocked in consecutive 3-pointers to effectively put the game away with just under six minutes left.

“Reagan is finding other ways to score right now,” Tomczak said. “Her outside shot is a work in progress. I mean, everyone [on] the team, everyone in the [DuKane] Conference knows that she is an outstanding shooter. But right now, they’re not falling [as consistently], so she’s finding other ways to help her team on the offensive end.”

North Stars sophomore forward Riley Barber had eight points and five rebounds to complement Sipla. Laney Stark had five points.

Batavia, meanwhile, was led by Addie Prewitt with nine points and five rebounds as well as Natalie Werner with seven points.