The Upstate Eight Conference River Division girls basketball race got a little more interesting Tuesday night.
Junior center Anna Davern scored a game-high 22 points with 11 rebounds, while the freshmen starting backcourt of Jazmyn Harmon and Leilauni Chanthaboury combined for 25 points and 13 rebounds during St. Charles North's 61-49 victory over Geneva (14-4) in St. Charles.
Coupled with St. Charles East's 63-32 win over Larkin Tuesday night, the North Stars (13-7, 5-2) pulled within a game of the co-UEC River leading Vikings and Saints (both are 6-1).
It marked St. Charles North's first victory against Geneva in more than 6 years, dating back to the North Stars' 59-57 win over the Vikings on Nov. 30, 2010.
In addition, it was a stark contrast from their previous meeting 11 days earlier in Geneva when the Vikings downed the North Stars, 65-36.
"It was a quick turnaround," said Davern, who hit a pair of 3-pointers while shooting 8 of 15 from the field. "When we first played them, we played scared. We didn't play our game.
"Tonight, we played with an edge. We played to win and we played hard the whole time."
Trailing 11-7 after one quarter, the North Stars still found themselves behind midway through the second period.
Junior guard Margaret Whitley's 3-pointer from the top of the key extended Geneva's lead to 21-14 before the North Stars went on a 10-0 run, fueled by Davern's 3-pointer and 5 consecutive points from Harmon (17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocked shots), to go in front, 24-21.
St. Charles North extended its 26-24 halftime advantage to 6 at 33-27 early in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Chanthaboury (8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists).
"We had some freshmen play not like freshmen today," said North Stars coach Mike Tomczak. "Chanthaboury and Harmon -- these are freshmen girls who have been thrown into huge roles and they stepped up. Nobody played with hesitation today. Everybody played ready to score and we moved the ball well, especially at the end of the first half and in the fourth quarter."
Geneva, playing without junior starting guard Stephanie Hart (illness), scored 8 of the next 10 points to tie it at 35-35.
However, baskets by Davern and Harmon in the final 24 seconds propelled the North Stars to a 39-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Harmon's steal and layup made it 55-44 with 1:44 left. A 3-pointer by Whitley (18 points) pulled the Vikings within 6 at 55-49 in the final minute before the North Stars sealed the deal with 6 late free throws.
"I'd be lying if I said that they weren't the standard in our conference," Tomczak said of the Vikings. "For us to get a win against a team like that says a lot about how hard our girls worked and how badly they wanted it."
Grace Loberg added 17 points and 9 rebounds for Geneva.
"We're in a funk right now and we've got to find ways to grind it out and get wins," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows. "I don't think our issue right now is offense. Defensively, we're struggling.
"We're going to get everybody's best and our kids have to realize that."