It was the type of half that could raise the blood pressure of any coach, getting them to rant and rave, maybe break a clipboard or two -- yet Saints coach Lori Drumtra was quite calm after watching her Saints score 16 points in the first half at home Saturday night against St. Charles North.
"We weren't that concerned because we felt we were getting good looks at the basket," Drumtra said. "It was just a horrendous shooting half. I was more concerned about our fouls and our defensive pressure. We talked about increasing the pressure on them on our 1-3-1, trying to trap, trying to make them throw the ball away. I think that was the turnaround. We shot a little better because we got some defensive turnovers we were able to convert."
The Saints did indeed turn up the pressure, scoring 22 points in the third quarter to make the opening half struggles a distant memory in a 53-38 victory.
St. Charles East (3-4, 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division) held St. Charles North (0-8, 0-3) without a field goal in the opening quarter, yet still found itself in a 5-5 tie as the missed shots piled up for both teams.
The North Stars went 0-for-11 from the field in the first quarter and 3 of 22 (13.6 percent) in the first half, yet still led 17-16 at halftime by making 9 free throws and watching the Saints shoot just about as poorly at 7 of 36 (19 percent).
Saints sophomore Kyra Washington found herself one of the busier players on the court grabbing 10 rebounds on all those missed shots in the first half alone, and 14 rebounds in the game to go with her 11 points.
She said the team took its time a little more in the second half when they bounced back to make 12 of 24 shots from the field.
"More passes before shooting and don't force passes, don't thread the needle," Washington said of the halftime adjustments. "And don't rush, be quick but don't rush.
"The second half we definitely picked it up and were talking more on defense. Because in the first half we were not talking and we were frazzled. The second half was much better."
Saints senior Paige Jordan, who scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half, opened the third quarter by driving for a basket. After Alex Silverman's jumper gave the North Stars a 19-18 lead, the Saints went ahead to stay on a pull-up jumper by Carly Pottle, the start of a 12-1 Saints run.
Pottle, who tallied 10 of her 12 points after halftime, again hit a pull-up from the baseline. Jordan scored again, then closed the quarter by assisting Pottle on a 3-pointer from the wing as time expired for a 38-24 lead entering the fourth quarter.
It was the second straight game, following Friday at Streamwood, that the North Stars found themselves in a good position early in the third quarter before the game got away from them.
"We're having a really difficult time in the third quarter," North Stars coach Colleen Backer said. "We need to work on our mental toughness and be able to be resilient when a team does something well."
Pottle opened the fourth quarter like she ended the third with a 3-pointer to put the Saints up 17. The North Stars chipped away at the lead and got as close as 49-38 on a bucket by Nicole Davidson before a pretty feed from Laney Deckrow to Washington ended the North Stars' mini-run.
Seniors Silverman and Natalie Winkates led the North Stars with 9 and 7 points, respectively. They were outrebounded 44-34 despite 8 boards by guard Ashling Davern and 7 from Morgan Rosencrants.
St. Charles North shot 24 percent from the field (11 of 46) while going 14 of 27 at the free-throw line. Maybe some home cooking will help as the North Stars, who haven't played at home yet this year, play the first of five straight at home Tuesday against Grayslake Central.
"It's a great group of kids," Backer said. "It takes a lot of character to deal with situations like that. They have to have confidence in them they will be able to handle it. I think they will."
The Saints played without three-year starting point guard Amanda Hilton who missed her second game this weekend playing in a soccer tournament in San Diego. Per team rules, Hilton will miss the West Chicago game and half of the Geneva game this week.
Drumtra was happy with how Katie Claussner filled in, and also the work Hannah Nowling (5 rebounds) did helping Washington give the Saints the edge on the glass.
"That's a good night when we have three players in double figures," Drumtra said. "I'll take that any time."