Moments after his team's 63-54 victory over St. Charles East Saturday night, St. Charles North girls basketball coach Sean Masoncup admittedly was going to let his players celebrate the cross-town victory for the remainder of the evening.
There were several reasons to celebrate for the North Stars, who completed an Upstate Eight Conference River Division weekend sweep with a win on the Saints' home floor.
Not only did the win raise the North Stars' conference record to 4-3, it upped their overall mark back to the .500 level at 10-10.
That may not seem like a big deal to some but considering the fact that the North Stars had posted back-to-back 8-win seasons, gaining their 10th victory prior to February is a noteworthy accomplishment.
"The big thing was getting that double-figure win (total)," said Masoncup, who is in his first season at the helm after serving several years as the North Stars' boys sophomore head coach. "It has been a long time."
St. Charles North took control of the game in the second quarter as it outscored St. Charles East (10-11, 4-4) 18-9 to build a 31-21 halftime advantage.
Included was a 9-0 run that featured a 12-foot jumper by Nichole Davidson, a 3-pointer from the corner by Kyla Helsel, an inside bucket by Liz McNally (7 points) and freshman Sami Sample's jumper from the elbow.
"We got what we wanted and we went inside," said Masoncup. "We're fortunate enough to have some tall girls."
St. Charles East trimmed a 13-point deficit to 9 midway through the third quarter on a 3-pointer from junior forward Chloe John (6 points, 8 rebounds).
However, the North Stars answered with a 10-3 surge, highlighted by Ashling Davern's 3-pointer, to extend their lead to 48-34 after 3 quarters.
"I felt the key to the game was late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter when it got to like 9 and then our girls got it up to 17-18 just like that," said Masoncup.
Inside buckets from Davidson (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals) and Davern (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) enabled the North Stars to build their biggest lead of the night at 52-34 with 7:36 remaining.
"Our interior passing has been a real point of emphasis," said the coach, "and also cutting and relocating off the pass. There were a couple times where Nichole could have taken a shot from the elbow but she dumped it inside for a nice easy layup."
Morgan Rosencrants had 12 points and 7 rebounds while Sam Novak chipped in with 6 points for the North Stars, who avenged their 72-68 loss to the Saints back on Dec. 7.
"This is my 11th year in this rivalry," said Masoncup, whose team now prepares for UEC River front-runner Batavia and senior guard Liza Fruendt, fresh from a 51-point performance against Geneva. "I've been on both sides and you never know who is going to win. I really thought our girls came to play."
"It's definitely a huge win for us," said Davidson. "It's really exciting that we beat them on their home court. Double-figure wins -- it's a huge step for us. We're really proud of our coach and our team in general."
Junior forward Kyra Washington scored a game-high 25 points for the Saints, who are still adjusting to playing without 4-year varsity guard Amanda Hilton (fractured kneecap).
"We're not pushing the ball up the court as fast and it's hard to set up a play because she (Hilton) usually gets everyone under control," said Washington, who added 7 boards and a pair of blocked shots. "She's a great leader so it's tough to replace that loss, too."
Katie Claussner and MacKenzie Meadows added 9 and 8 points, respectively, for the Saints.
"We had people step up which was good but we came out a little flat at the beginning of the game," added Washington.