Girls Basketball: St. Charles North surges in second half to win over St. Charles East

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ST. CHARLES – There are times when halftime adjustments pay huge dividends.

Trailing St. Charles East by six at halftime, St. Charles North’s girls basketball team regrouped during intermission and got back to doing what it does best — applying swarming, full-court pressure defense.

That added intensity helped enable the North Stars (20-4, 9-1) to score 26 third-quarter points while grabbing a five-point lead, and they closed out the game with a 17-3 run in the fourth quarter on the way to a 68-49 DuKane Conference road victory Tuesday night in St. Charles.

“As a coach, I have to take a lot of responsibility for the first half,” said North Stars coach Mike Tomczak, whose team extended its winning streak to 10 despite just 25 points in the first half. “We came out and we didn’t put on the pressure we normally do. That was something we were trying.

“That was a mistake on my part. It got us away from what we’ve been doing all year, and it really hurt us on the offensive end, too. It hurt our energy and it hurt the way we were moving the basketball, but we came out in the second half and corrected a wrong. The girls bailed me out and had a great second half.”

Reagan Sipla (14 points, five rebounds) ignited the North Stars’ 8-0 run to start the second half with a 3-pointer, and junior teammate Katrina Stack (14 points, three steals, three blocked shots) scored nine third-quarter points while senior guard Julia Larson (seven points, six rebounds, three steals) added six points as the visitors outscored the Saints, 26-15.

Senior guard Alyssa Hughes saved her best for the final quarter, as she scored 12 of her game-high 30 points in the final eight minutes to help the North Stars pull away.

“We just didn’t play like ourselves in the first half,” said Hughes. “During halftime, we recollected as a team and really focused on what we do well. We came out with so much more energy.”

Hughes also let her coach off the hook.

“That’s the team’s fault, too,” she said of North’s first half. “It’s our fault for not coming out with as much energy as we should of. The great thing about this team is we pick up off each other’s energy.”

Hughes connected on five 3-pointers and went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line, where the North Stars finished 23-for-35 for the game.

“Potentially, this could be the last time we play these guys (Saints) this year,” said Hughes. “Potentially, it’s my last time ever playing them so it’s a great way to finish it off.”

After committing 13 first-half turnovers, the North Stars only had 3 over the final 16 minutes.

“We’ve been excellent in the third quarter this year,” said Tomczak. “But closing out games in the fourth quarter — it’s something we must continue learning to do.

“Defensively, our rotations were significantly better in the second half. When we can get up and press, get deflections and make teams uncomfortable, it feeds our offense.”

Lexi DiOrio led the Saints (8-14, 2-7) with 13 points, while Emma Yakey added 12 points (four 3-pointers). Corinne Reed finished with nine points, six rebounds and four assists.

“They’ve (North Stars) got two really good offensive players,” said Saints coach Josh Foster. “We kind of lost their point guard there — Hughes — for a little bit and she got hot.”