Hughes shoots St. Charles North past Geneva
Alyssa Hughes is starting to blossom into the well-rounded player St. Charles North needs her to be.
Hughes, a sophomore guard in her second varsity season, scored all 16 points of her points in the second half to power the North Stars to a 52-40 victory over DuKane Conference rival Geneva on Tuesday, in the process handing the Vikings their first loss of the season.
"I think I'm much more comfortable this year than I was last year," Hughes said. "We can probably go eight-nine deep on our team, which is really nice to have the support from everyone too."
Hughes was pressed into varsity action last year after Emma Ludwig's season-ending knee injury. This year, she's starting alongside Ludwig to give the North Stars a nice 1-2 punch in the back court.
Hughes' fourth quarter Tuesday was one to remember.
She buried a 3-pointer to open things to give the North Stars a 38-35 lead. Both teams traded baskets before Geneva senior Kelly McCloughan split two free throws to pull the Vikings within 40-38 with 5:14 remaining.
Hughes answered with a tough layup and converted the three-point play. On Geneva's ensuing possession, Hughes coaxed a steal and scored on another layup for a 45-38 North Stars' lead.
Seconds later, Hughes corralled another steal to draw a foul on the other end, and split two free throws.
"In terms of sparks, Alyssa gave us a great spark in the second half obviously, but that's her role now. Her role is to be a leader on this team offensively and defensively," North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said.
While Hughes earned the spotlight for her play in the second half, the North Stars (3-1, 2-1) collectively earned the victory, thanks to a handful of solid performances throughout the game.
Erin Stack (7 points), Tatum Settelmyer (7 points, 4 rebounds) and Reagan Sipla (7 points) all scored in the final quarter while Eva Saltsman (3 points, 5 rebounds) had a few crucial rebounds to close out Geneva.
"We had great minutes from everybody that played," Tomczak said.
Ludwig drew a fun matchup in Geneva senior Kate Palmer, as both are teammates in AAU.
"Geneva is her favorite. That's something she gets excited for and that's a credit to them," Tomczak said. "That's a compliment to them, but she's been looking forward to this."
"Physically, I felt great. It's a good win for us," Ludwig said, who finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds. "And, now, we've got three days to prepare for our rivals (St. Charles East), so that's going to be a fun game."
Geneva's mistakes with turnovers and offensive miscues in the final minutes were too great to overcome, in part thanks to the North Stars' unrelenting press.
It spoiled a standout effort from McCloughan, who was often gathering second-chance opportunities. McCloughan finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds.
"She played awesome," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "She could get to the rim tonight; she was our main offense in the first half. I mean, she was killing it. And, she had Hughes (defensively) in the first half and I thought she did a great job against her."
Geneva (3-1, 2-1) was also paced by Kate Palmer's 8 points. Leah Palmer had 6 points and 6 rebounds, while Cassidy Arni had 9 points and 7 rebounds. Zosia Wrobel, despite battling foul trouble, had 6 rebounds.
"We had a really bad last four minutes of that game. I knew this was going to be a tough game. Our kids know that these guys are a good team," Meadows said. "They finished the game better than we did. It's stuff we got to learn. We just got to learn from it and not make those same exact mistakes we did in the last four minutes."