BATAVIA – In order for St. Charles North’s guard pressure system to work, everyone on the court needs to do their part.
The engine that makes it start smoothly, though, is senior guard Julia Larson.
“We expect our top girl, our tip of the spear, to give us four minutes as hard as you can go,” North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said following their 52-30 victory over Lake Zurich on Monday at Batavia’s MLK Showdown. “Because any human thats going to go as hard as they can go for four minutes is going to be gassed at that point.”
St. Charles North as a team forced 24 turnovers on the night.
“[Larson] gave us 31 [minutes] tonight,” Tomczak said. “Foul trouble kind of prevented us from getting normal rotations [we do], but [I kept asking her]: ‘You good’. ‘Yea, I’m good’. She’s diving on the floor, popping back up and getting and-ones. She was outstanding tonight.”
The pressure system implementation, suffice to say, is paying off big for the North Stars.
“This was an experiment this summer,” Tomczak said. “We’ve never been mistaken for a team that locks teams down defensively before this year. Never, ever. We asked our girls [and] we felt like we had a combination of kids that were able to run this type of pressure and they bought into it over the summer.”
“Anytime you do something, you do want the results so the kids can really buy in,” Tomczak continued. “We were fortunate in the summer but the cool thing about this defense is it’s been getting better. As we’ve been seeing teams the second time through, we’re still able to put pressure. There’s tweaks we can make.”
Geneva rebounds after Montini loss; Gracey providing boost off bench
Geneva doesn’t experience the taste of defeat often this season. Only three times, in fact, to date.
Last Saturday’s 44-42 loss to Montini broke an 11-game winning steak, but despite the brief hiccup, it’s business as usual for the Vikings.
“We were looking to bounce back, especially after Saturday,” Vikings junior forward Leah Palmer said on Monday. “We know we’re a lot better than that game, so for this [61-53 victory over Glenbrook South] we wanted to come out and get a new streak going. We pulled it out in the end.”
Beyond the usual suspects of strong performances from Lauren Slagle and Cassidy Arni, the Vikings guard play from Rilee Hasegawa, Caroline Madden and Kinsey Gracey are doing well in Palmer’s eyes.
“Especially, Kis. She’s coming off the bench. Also, Peri [Sweeney] I might add, too,” Palmer continued. “They’re both coming off the bench and they can shoot. They’re making threes for us, which is a huge deal for us.”
Kinsey is a “good spot-up shooter.”
“So, when she gets open shot, she’ll knock id down, so she’s great at that.”
Plank being adaptive for Kaneland
In a given game, Kailey Plank might have a few hats to wear. Any one of them might require something different.
“Whether I’m scoring, causing turnovers, or drawing the defense to me and finding the open player, whatever the team needs in that particular game I am willing to do,” Plank said. “Recognizing the game and what my team needs of me is my biggest improvement this year.”
Kaneland (9-12) is amid a brief two-game losing streak, but is showing improvement.
“We knew going into the season that we were a smaller team but we have come a long way since the start [of it] and have improved tremendously,” Plank continued. “We have been learning to gel better as a team these past couple of weeks, and have been using our speed to our advantage. And have been playing at a fast pace which we love.”