Amanda Hilton began her senior basketball season the same way she finished her junior campaign -- making baskets.
The 5-foot-5 guard connected on her first 6 field-goal attempts, 3 of them coming from 3-point territory, on her way to a game-high 25 points while leading St. Charles East's girls basketball team to a season-opening 64-57 victory over Schaumburg Monday night in the Saxons' Thanksgiving Tournament.
Hilton, who made 10 of her 14 shots from the floor, poured in 19 first-half points to lift the Saints (1-0) to a 35-27 halftime advantage.
"It was really nice," said Hilton. "It was definitely a good feeling not being rusty this game. I've been practicing hard. My dad and I have been shooting a lot at night (at St. Charles East) to get ready for the games -- mainly working on 3s."
Saints coach Lori Drumtra admitted that Hilton's shooting skills and ability to break down the Saxons' defense and drive to the basket altered her substitution plans a bit.
"I kept her in there longer than I wanted to," said Drumtra. "I wanted to give her more breaks but it is hard to take somebody who is shooting that well and driving that well off the court."
Schaumburg (0-1), which fell behind 37-27 early in the third quarter, fought its way back behind 5-11 junior guard-forward Jada Blackwell (19 points) and 5-11 freshman guard Mallory Gerber (12 points).
Nina Nykaza capped a 15-4 run with a steal and layup to give the Saxons their first lead of the night at 42-41 with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
However, the Saints answered with 8 straight points -- 6 of them coming at the free-throw line -- to open a 49-42 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"It was kind of what I expected for the first game -- a little sloppy," said Drumtra, whose team committed 23 turnovers. "But I was pleased at this early stage that they were able to keep their poise."
St. Charles East had 12 more free-throw attempts (28-16) than the Saxons and got into the double bonus with 6:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"It helped being in the double bonus as long as we were," said Drumtra. "They're (the referees) really calling hand checks this year and they warned us that they would."
Junior Kyra Washington had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Saints, while Hannah Nowling added 8 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Katelyn Claussner scored 10 points and dished out 4 assists.
"When we calmed down a little bit and played under control, we can do a lot of things," said Drumtra, whose team faces Rockford Boylan Friday night.
"We've got a lot to work on though. We don't like to give up that many points."
"Overall, our team had so much heart today," said Hilton. "It has been a while since we've gone 1-0 in this tournament."
Lillian Chavarria and Nykaza scored 8 points each during Curtis Goodwin's head coaching debut for the Saxons.
"I thought we played a lot harder in the second half," said Goodwin. "That's all you can ask for. We'll move forward from here."