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When St. Charles East's girls basketball team is in need of a spark, it turns to Carly Pottle.
Pottle, a 5-foot-5 senior guard, scored a team-leading 17 points and added 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists, and 1 swollen eye during the Saints' 57-37 non-conference victory over West Chicago (1-7) Tuesday night in St. Charles.
Despite catching an inadvertent elbow to her right eye during a mid-court collision with a Wildcat player 2 minutes into the contest, Pottle refused to give in as she helped ignite a 16-3 second-quarter run that snapped an 11-11 deadlock.
"I got a little elbow to the eye but it happens," said Pottle, who applied an ice bag to her shiner after the game. "It's sore but it didn't bother me.
"I'm short so I've got to play aggressively. That's my only way out."
Pottle, who had 9 points, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds at halftime, teamed up with senior guard Paige Jordan (15 points) and sophomore guard/forward Kyra Washington (8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocked shots) for 14 of the 16 points during the surge that propelled the Saints (4-4) to a 27-14 advantage.
"She plays hard," Saints coach Lori Drumtra said of Pottle. "She played the same way in the game against (St. Charles) North last Saturday (53-38 East win). She's relentless. It's almost like we have to slow her down a little bit at times and give her a breather. She only has one speed, which is really, really fast.
"She has done a real nice job for us," added the coach.
West Chicago senior guard Laura Panicali did her best to keep the game close, as she scored 17 of her game-high 25 points in the first half.
In fact, Panicali had all 12 of the Wildcats' second-quarter points, including an inside bucket in the closing seconds to make it 29-23 at the intermission.
"She did that to us last year," Drumtra said of Panicali. "She just works hard. She's active and she gets a lot of boards. We talked about it. It's not like we weren't aware of her before the game.
"I was a little frustrated because it seemed like she was able to score at will," added Drumtra. "We were giving her way too much cushion."
Pottle, Jordan, Hannah Nowling (4 points, 8 rebounds), and sophomore guard Katie Claussner (5 points) fueled a 17-7 third-quarter tear that extended the lead to 46-30 and enabled the Saints to pull away.
Defensively, the Saints held the Wildcats to 14 second-half points on 4-of-25 shooting from the field.
"I thought we did a pretty nice job when we upped the pressure in the second half," said Drumtra, whose team hosts Geneva (6-2) Thursday night.
"Thursday will be a big test for us," said Drumtra. "We'll need to handle their pressure."
Amanda Gosbeth added 6 points for the Wildcats, who were outrebounded 46-32.
"I know they're bigger than us but we've got to get better at boxing out and trying to get a body on people," said West Chicago coach Kim Wallner.
"All of our guards are new," added Wallner. "They're trying the best they can but I thought the pressure got to us, too."