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St. Charles East's Katie Claussner is gaining confidence at just the right time.
The sophomore guard led the Saints with a team-high 20 points including three big 3-pointers down the stretch, leading to a 68-61 victory at Metea Valley in a matchup of the Upstate Eight River and Upstate Eight Valley second place teams.
Claussner said afterward that she could feel herself gaining more confidence with each game.
"The beginning of the season I really wasn't playing much and wasn't as confident," she said. "Now, with a couple of good games, it's really helping me out."
St. Charles East coach Lori Drumtra saw early on the talent in her young guard.
"Katie is playing with so much confidence," Drumtra said. "She's playing like the Katie we saw this summer; shooting with confidence, penetrating and passing well and she does a nice job on defense."
The Saints (16-11) had to overcome a slow shooting start as the Mustangs (21-6) jumped out to an 8-0 lead just three minutes into the game. However, they began to find their touch from beyond the arc, scoring their first nine points from 3-point range.
Junior guard Amanda Hilton finished with 19 points including 18 off 3-point attempts. As a team, the Saints made 13 from beyond the arc on the night.
"With the good shooters that (St. Charles East) has, you've got to do the little things right," Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas said. "You've got to get some screens, you've got to box out and you've got to know where the shooters are. Those are the things they beat us on today."
Jenny Voytell (23 points) gave Metea Valley its last lead of the night on a fast-break layup that made the score 55-52 with 3:15 left in the game.
Claussner followed with her first of three 3-pointers down the stretch, tying the game at 55-55 with a trey from the top of the key.
After another Voytell layup on the fast break tied the score at 57-57, Claussner followed with a 3-pointer from along the wing that gave her team the lead for good at 60-57.
Her final 3-point shot came with 50 seconds left, giving the Saints a 4-point cushion.
Despite the loss, Metea Valley senior center Lori Obendorf surpassed the 1,000-point career scoring mark, netting a game-high 27 points including 18 in the first half. She finished 13-of-14 from the field, connecting on her first 12 attempts.
"It's a great honor for her," Kalivas said. "Not only that she hit the mark, but that she did it only playing varsity for three years."