As disappointed as St. Charles East was at how it started the Bill Neibch Holiday Tournament at Wheaton North this week, the Saints were just as pleased with how they ended it.
Amanda Hilton scored 21 points and Carly Pottle added 17, a one-two punch that was too much for Downers Grove North in a 55-46 Saints win that earned St. Charles East the tournament's consolation championship.
"It feels very good," Hilton said. "We lost one early but it shows what kind of team we have to want to come back and win this championship."
St. Charles East (10-7) won three straight games after opening the tournament with a loss to Lyons Township.
"That's what we told them after that first game is we need to be in this game and kind of challenged them," Saints coach Lori Drumtra said. "That first loss we played a little soft, a little flat-footed. These last three games I have absolutely no complaints with how they played. Played very inspired."
The Saints played Saturday without senior guard Paige Jordan who has led the team in scoring the past three years.
"I'm just going to say she was not here today and I'm going to leave it at that for right now," said Drumtra, adding it's too early to say if Jordan will be back when conference play resumes in January against Batavia.
Downers Grove North (7-9) got off to a good start. Jaida Green and Sarah Costello scored the Trojans' first two baskets on second-chance opportunities, and those two continued to power Downers North all game.
The Trojans led 10-6 after one quarter and took their biggest lead at 15-8. Pottle helped bring the Saints back scoring 9 points in a 13-6 spurt that tied the game at 21.
Hilton sent the Saints into halftime with a 25-23 lead by hitting a 3 with 10 seconds to go in the half, and then getting fouled as the time expired and making a free throw.
"I thought we were getting good looks," Drumtra said. "We missed some easy baskets at the beginning but you know if you are getting good looks if you keep on taking them they are going to fall."
Drumtra emphasized getting post touches in the second half. The Saints led the entire way, 40-36 after three quarters, and they quickly pushed the margin to 10 with the first six points of the fourth quarter.
Hannah Nowling opened the fourth quarter hitting a baseline jumper on a feed from Hilton. She also made all 4 of her free throws to finish as the third Saint in double figures with 10 points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds.
"She does a lot of that grunt work that doesn't show up a lot," Drumtra said. "She doesn't care. She's very happy doing that. As she gets better and better she's going to turn a lot of those rebounds into points."
Costello led the Trojans with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Green added 15 points.
Kyra Washington blocked 6 shots for the Saints, who outrebounded the Trojans 37-34 and held them to 36.5 percent shooting (19 for 52) from the field.