The St. Charles North and Hampshire girls basketball teams certainly played to a typical degree of rust and sloppiness you'd expect in a season debut.
But in the end, Whip-Purs' forward Meagan Heine looked like she had her 3-point shot already in midseason form during the second half.
The senior helped erase a 3-point third quarter and a 5-point fourth quarter Hampshire deficit with 14 of her team-high 17 points in the second half, including 3 clutch shots from beyond the arc to help Hampshire to 53-42 win over the North Stars in the 4th annual Pilgrim Thanksgiving Classic at Hoffman Estates High School Tuesday night.
Heine was 3 of 5 from deep, including one from the top of the key to give Hampshire a 48-40 lead with nearly 3 minutes to go, a juncture where finally the Whips (1-0) could breathe easier after a high octane 29 minutes with bodies flying everywhere and the foul meter through the roof.
"I think we were all ready and excited to play our first game but their pressure on defense forced us to go faster on offense," said Heine, who helped Hampshire shoot 47.2 percent from the field. "Our turnovers weren't that good but we limited them in the second half and it really helped us on the offensive end."
Heine also added a sweet fadeaway banker along the left baseline in the fourth quarter that was part of an 18-4 advantage the final 8 minutes. Senior Rachel Dumoulin also dropped 17 points, including 7 in the fourth, while Maggie Goad added 14 points. Hampshire won the turnover advantage, forcing North into 25 to its 16. St. Charles North also went dead cold in the fourth going 2-for-10, which gave the North Stars a lowly 36.3 percent clip from the field.
"These girls stepped up and it was fun to see," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said of his team, which lost 4 starters to graduation. "Defensively it's going to be our identity and they did a good job of going after it and the fourth quarter we gave up four points. They had a nice run there at the end of the third but we responded there in the fourth."
It was indeed a game of runs as Hampshire built up a 34-28 lead after Heine buried two 3s and Dumoulin (4 rebounds, 3 steals) converted a 3-point play midway through the third. Junior forward Anna Davern's 3-point play with 9 seconds left gave North (0-1) a 38-35 lead on a 10-1 run to end the third and that lead bridged to 5 on a Kelly Jakaitis putback with 7:37 to go.
Davern led all scorers with 18 points to go with 4 steals and 3 rebounds but things didn't look good for her when she twisted an ankle just seconds before the half. She'd bounce back in a big way with two 3-pointers in the third during that aforementioned run but ultimately, turnovers and a barrage of first half fouls caught up to the North Stars. At one point, North committed 9 fouls to Hampshire's none which gave North no rhythm to start.
"We're not being critical of the officials but we need to learn how to play defense without putting our hands on people," first-year North coach Mike Tomczak said. "This serves as more of a lesson for us. But as far as going cold in the fourth I think we're trying to a balance the pace and getting quality shots. It's a process and we're young and it's day one but there's no experience like game experience."