Girls Basketball: Behind Alyssa Hughes’ hot hand, St. Charles North turns away pesky Addison Trail

Hughes hits seven threes, scores 26 points in North Stars’ 52-44 win in regional semifinal

St. Charles North's Alyssa Hughes (3) advances the ball during Class 4A Addison Trail Regional semifinal game between St. Charles North at Addison Trail. Feb 15, 2022.

ADDISON – Alyssa Hughes proved elusive on Tuesday night and St. Charles North advanced to Friday’s Class 4A Addison Trail Regional championship game after a 52-44 victory over the pesky Blazers.

“You have to credit (Addison Trail) because they played their rear ends off, played incredibly hard,” North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. “I don’t know how many shots they missed in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t think our defense was up to our standard today. I think they took advantage of a lot of rotations that we didn’t make.”

Behind 26 points from junior Alyssa Hughes, the North Stars now have the decisive third meeting against Batavia. The first two were doozies, with the first going to the Bulldogs in overtime and the North Stars winning by just two last week.

“We have two days to work on the mistakes we made this game so we can prepare for them,” Hughes said. “They’re a conference team so we played them twice and we’re going to have to show up and be ready to play.”

Hughes was certainly ready to go in Addison, knocking down four of her seven three-pointers in the second half.

“She hit one or two and then we started calling some sets for her and she hit a couple more,” Tomczak said. “She’s been outstanding this season; one of the best in the history of our building. She can certainly shoot it and she bailed us out a couple of times.”

Identifying the hot hand obviously is part of the game when you’ve got a sharpshooter like Hughes and the North Stars found her regularly while her threat to drive drove the Blazers away from any lengthy runs.

“Playoff games are huge and everyone’s playing for their seniors because it’s their last go around at this competition level,” Hughes said. “You want to step up and you just got to play your game to win. My teammates always put me in position to score. They were always looking for me to get my shots off.”

Addison Trail simply would not  go away. After going down by 15 early in the fourth quarter, the Blazers battled to within 50-44 after Elena Papanicolaou’s three-pointer with 1:12 left.

“My girls battled hard and scrapped like we’ve done all season and the last three years,” Blazers coach Cory Little said. “St. Charles North is a well-coached team with great players, great shooters and Coach (Tomczak) had them prepared and ready.”

Papanicolaou scored 12 while Quiana Birmingham led the Blazers with 16.

“My seniors have been battling all season and they did everything we asked of them from the beginning of the season until the end,” Little said. “They just came up a little short tonight but I’m so proud of this senior group.”

The North Stars only led 20-15 at halftime but after a few three-pointers and a pair of free throws from Hughes, their lead increased to 36-24 by the final minute of the third quarter.

“We try to identify players who get hot,” Tomczak said. “We’ve got three or four different calls that we’ll use to get shooters an open shot and we try to ride that hot hand and hit as many as we can.”

Batavia won the earlier semifinal, 50-22, over Glenbard East. The Rams received a game-high 14 points from Caley Carney. Tessa Towers led the Bulldogs with 13 points and Brooke Carlson added 11.