Every basketball game has a winner and a loser on the scoreboard when it's over, and while Burlington Central's girls team came out on the winning side, St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup wasn't lamenting the loss.
In fact, both Masoncup and BC coach Mark Smith -- friends for many years who both teach in the St. Charles school district -- sounded like clear winners after the Rockets held off the North Stars 53-47 in a consolation bracket game of the 31st annual Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown Saturday afternoon.
"Our kids wanted bragging rights for the year," said Smith, a teacher at St. Charles North whose own children were taught and/or coached by Masoncup, who teaches at Haines Middle School. "(North) did some good things and they played hard. It was a gritty, grind-it-out second half effort and overall it could have been our best game of the year."
Said Masoncup: "Burlington Central played hard but I thought we matched their intensity. I'm proud of our effort."
The win puts the Rockets (11-1), playing in the Charger Classic for the first time, in Monday's 2 p.m. consolation championship game against Maine South, last year's tournament champion. The Hawks beat Naperville Central 50-41 Saturday. SCN will play Naperville Central at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Sophomores Sam Pryor and Shelby Holt led Burlington Central Saturday with 18 and 15 points, respectively. That offset a career-high 29-point performance from North Stars' junior Nichole Davidson.
Central broke out to a 12-2 lead, a deficit the North Stars (7-9) could never overcome against their neighboring rivals. But instead of letting the early deficit get them down, the Stars came back and fought their way back into the game more than once.
"I think we matched them step for step after their run to start the game," Masoncup said.
Down 13, 39-26, after an Alison Colby basket with 2:44 left in the third quarter, North went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 39-35 when Davidson hit a short jumper with 6:26 left in the game. But sophomore Kayla Ross, Pryor and Colby, who had 9 points and played stellar post defense, each scored for BC to give it a 45-35 lead with 2:10 left as SCN went 4 minutes, 28 seconds without scoring. The North Stars got to within five twice in the final minute but Pryor went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line and junior Aly DeTamble sealed the win with 2 free throws with four seconds left after a Davidson basket with nine seconds left made it a 51-47 game.
"I liked the way we responded both in the first half and in the second half," said Smith, whose team only had 8 turnovers and shot 42 percent (18-for-43).
After going 6-for-31 on 3-pointers in its first two tournament games, including 0-for-10 against Dundee-Crown on Friday, the Rockets were 6-for-14 Saturday. Holt went 3-for-3 in the first quarter and Pryor added a trey.
"Those kids are great shooters and they're going to hit some 3s," Smith said. "When we were patient we took advantage of our opportunities."
Holt, the leading scorer on last year's Elite Eight team, has overcome an early-season slump of sorts to become a double-digit scorer again.
"We're sharing responsibilities and everyone has a role on the team that we're feeding off of," she said. "I'm more comfortable now and my role is to shoot the ball. We played well today. We shared the ball and I thought it looked good. It felt good."
Davidson, who was 11-for-22 shooting and also had 11 rebounds, was pleased with her team's performance despite the loss.
"We definitely made a lot of progress today," she said. "The little things ... we could have had more of the 50/50 balls. But we were executing our plays."