Girls basketball: Batavia upends St. Charles East in Class 4A sectional semifinal

Bulldogs take 12-game winning streak into Thursday’s sectional championship

Batavia’s Addison Prewitt gets between St. Charles East defenders Sofia O’Sullivan and Alyse Price during a Class 4A Batavia Sectional semifinal game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

BATAVIA – Batavia took charge in the third quarter of Tuesday’s Class 4A Batavia Sectional semifinal game against St. Charles East.

Addison Prewitt and Kylee Gehrt each drew charges and Hallie Crane drained a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Bulldogs pulled away from the Saints, 63-51.

The Bulldogs will take their 12-game winning streak into Thursday’s sectional championship game against Geneva at 6 p.m. The Vikings survived a defensive battle against St. Charles North in Tuesday’s other semifinal, 42-36.

“Charges really help boost us and change our momentum,” Prewitt said. “How we risk our bodies for our team that just really helps bring us all up.”

Batavia (28-5) was holding onto a 36-30 lead early in the third quarter, but jumped ahead 44-30 after an 8-0 run sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Crane.

The junior finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in what she called her best game of the season.

“She’s a dynamic player and that was a huge piece we missed last year with her missing the year with a knee injury,” Bulldogs coach Kevin Jensen said. “With all the different things she can do she’s a special player.”

After knocking down her first 3 to give the Bulldogs a 39-30 lead, Crane was itching for another attempt and got it less than a minute later.

“I just felt kind of locked in,” she said. “And it kind of fuels me to move onto the next play and keep pushing. I felt like we could keep going and going.”

The Bulldogs needed other players to step up because they knew the Saints would do everything they could to try to keep Brooke Carlson – the program’s all-time leading scorer – from beating them.

“I think our game plan was to stop Brooke (Carlson) and I think out of her 21 points, 13 of them were free throws,” Saints coach Katie Claussner said. “We executed the game plan and we said before coming in that someone was going to have to step up and beat us and unfortunately that’s what they did. (Addi Lowe) made some (one) threes, (Gehrt) made some threes. It was just their night.”

Gehrt’s 3-pointer with 2:12 left in the third quarter came right after she drew a charge. It gave her 10 points for the game while providing the the Bulldogs with 47-32 cushion.

“That was a great one there because there was a transition and there’s a whole different feeling if they get that transition layup,” Jensen said. “Instead, it’s like a five-point swing. We put a lot of value in that. We talked about that. It’s an energy play.”

St. Charles East’s Addie Schilb gets the ball to the basket during a Class 4A Batavia Sectional semifinal game against Batavia on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

St. Charles East (19-13) had already lost twice to the Bulldogs earlier this season, including a 68-56 decision on Feb. 1. The Saints didn’t go away easily, pulling to within 57-49 with 1:55 remaining, but wouldn’t get any closer.

Lexi DiOrio, Carmen Aguilera and Addie Schilb each scored 12 points for the Saints while Corinne Reed had eight points and 11 rebounds. Prewitt added nine points for the Bulldogs.

“This season could have gone one of many ways,” Claussner said. “I was the third coach in who knows how many years and they could’ve easily denied everything I wanted to do and instead they embraced all the changes we wanted to make and they’ve made this program something the girls want to be a part of. Future generations want to be a part of (Saints basketball) and they are laying the foundation of that. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”