Strong second-half starts have been a rarity during the first month of the girls' basketball season for St. Charles North.
That definitely changed Tuesday night.
Trailing 31-30 at halftime, the North Stars (5-6) came out with a purpose in the third quarter and reeled off 9 straight points to take control on the way to a 68-60 nonconference victory over Crystal Lake South (9-5) in St. Charles.
"That has been one of our Achilles' heels -- and we talked about it (at halftime)," said North Stars coach Sean Masoncup. "I told the girls that whoever calls the first timeout (in the second half) will win the ballgame."
It took less than 2 minutes for Gators coach Kyle McCaughn to burn a timeout after watching the North Stars take a 35-31 lead.
"They made a nice run to start the third quarter and we didn't respond," said McCaughn, whose team had its 6-game winning streak snapped.
Junior forward Nichole Davidson, who led all players with 21 points, went on a personal 7-0 run to open the third quarter for the North Stars.
"I thought they went into a man (defense) more and we started running through our plays, transitioning the floor and getting a lot of steals," said Davidson, who added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots.
The North Stars also received a huge lift from sophomore forward Morgan Rosencrants (20 points, 8 rebounds), who tallied the team's next 10 points -- most coming on inside looks.
"Morgan had her best game of the year," said Masoncup. "She was smart and realized that the girl (Chanel Fanter) was in foul trouble and just attacked her. To be a sophomore and be thinking on the court like that -- that bodes well for her future."
Guards Ashling Davern (17 points, 6 steals) and Kyla Helsel (8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) also provided plenty of support for the North Stars.
"I thought that Ashling Davern had a phenomenal game," said Masoncup. "She had two or three great steals with three or four minutes to go that got us layups. She's the type of player who does a lot of our dirty work.
"And I thought Kyla (Helsel) had one of her best games of the season, too," added the coach.
Fanter paced Crystal Lake South with 18 points while 5-11 senior center Sara Mickow added 16 points and a game-high 22 rebounds as part of the Gators' 50-26 edge on the glass.
"She just reads it when the ball comes off a kid's hand," McCaughn said of Mickow. "She's got that natural instinct to locate herself on the floor and pick up where the ball comes off."
McCaughn was disappointed with his team's defense and inability to capitalize on the offensive glass.
"We gave up a bunch of easy baskets in the third quarter," said McCaughn. "We also had a huge advantage in rebounding but we couldn't take advantage of it on the offensive end."
The North Stars will look to climb back to the .500 mark Thursday night against Grayslake Central.
"This was a quality win," said Masoncup. "I'm proud of the effort the girls gave tonight."