No team likes to lose the first game of a tournament, but if there's a silver lining in losing, the St. Charles North girls basketball team may have found one.
But outscoring and outplaying undefeated Evanston in the middle two quarters didn't negate a slow start and a slow finish for the North Stars Wednesday as they fell to the Wildkits 63-41 in the opening round of the 30th annual Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown.
"I'm real proud of our girls the way they handled themselves," said North Stars' coach Colleen Backer. "For two and a half quarters we played very smart with a lot of different combinations out there. We can focus on a lot of things that we did well today."
St. Charles North (4-10) fell behind 9-0 to start the game and by the end of the first quarter the talented Wildkits (14-0) had a 20-9 lead.
Evanston then extended its advantage to 26-14 after 2 free throws from 6-foot-2 senior Alicia Cooley with 4:39 left in the first half. That's when the North Stars started putting together inspired teamwork, and a comeback. Using a runner in the lane and a 3-pointer from sophomore Sam Novak, 2 free throws from sophomore Nicole Davidson and another 3 from Novak, the Stars were suddenly down just 26-24 with 2:20 left before the break.
Evanston got a 3-pointer from junior Dashae Shumate and a free throw from Seara Clayborn to make it 30-24, but the Stars used 2 free throws from Novak and a 3-pointer from senior Alex Silverman with 39 seconds left to go into halftime down just 30-29.
SCN then took its only lead of the game at 31-30 on a Davidson basket with just 21 seconds gone in the third quarter, but Evanston woke up again and managed to take a 40-37 advantage into the final period.
That's when the wheels fell off for the North Stars.
Evanston went on a 13-0 run to open the fourth quarter and before St. Charles North could score, the Wildkits had an insurmountable 53-37 lead. They ended up outscoring SCN 23-4 in the final quarter to move on to the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. today against Barrington, a 62-60 winner over Resurrection on Wednesday.
"They hit some shots and they executed well," said Evanston coach Elliott Whitefield of the North Stars, who play Resurrection at 11 a.m. today in the consolation bracket.
"They made us work. They played hard and did some good things."
Cooley led Evanston with 20 points, but she left the game with 1:30 to play after rolling an ankle on a layup. Whitefield wasn't optimistic about his starting post player being able to play today. Sierra Clayborn added 16 points for Evanston and Shumate had 14. The Wildkits shot 26-for-53 for the game and made 5 3-pointers.
Novak led the North Stars with 12 points and Davidson added 10. Freshman Morgan Rosencrants had 7 points and 13 rebounds as the teams were even on the boards, 31-31. SCN shot 15 of 45 from the field but just 1 of 10 in the fourth quarter. And, of the 21 turnovers SCN had, 14 of them came in the first and fourth quarters.
"We had difficulty with their pressure and we had a hard time getting defensive stops," said Backer of the fourth quarter. "We kept giving them added possessions. But we saw a lot of good things in a variety of ways today. We just have to do it more consistently."