Everyone scores in Batava's win over St. Charles East
Claire Nazos knows at this stage of her varsity career that even if her shot isn't falling, she can find plenty of ways to affect a game.
Nazos, Batavia's junior guard, admittedly isn't the tallest girl on the floor at 5-foot-5. That doesn't mean she'll shy away from barging into traffic underneath the basket to get the rebounds and hustle plays she needs to make.
"My shots haven't been falling these past few games, so I've just been working hard on the defensive end," Nazos said after grabbing 8 rebounds in Batavia's 49-34 victory over St. Charles East on Tuesday. "Trying to get those boards [and] help my post out. It's frustrating my shots aren't falling, but in the end, if I'm working hard on defense, [It all kind of evens out]. I need to box out and in this game, I really boxed out more."
Nazos' efforts helped Batavia (3-5, 2-4) hand the Saints their third consecutive loss. The Bulldogs forced 21 turnovers on the evening -- 15 of which came at the half. That in part helped build a 26-13 lead at the break.
"This was our best defensive game of the year," said Nazos, who sank a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for her 6 points. "We kept pressing and pressing and getting the steals we wanted. I think the bottom part of our zone really communicated."
"[Nazos] really understands where she needs to be in the bottom of our zone defense," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "She's just kind of embraced that. I tell her [she] can be over-aggressive at times. [But], she's got real good instincts, just kind of finding the ball. That's been huge for us."
Increased team confidence and trust are playing large roles in making that defensive effectiveness happen more consistently.
"I think we're in a good spot [defensively] but I think we need to keep working," Nazos said. "There's things we need to communicate more on, but it's on a climb."
Batavia freshman guard Brooke Carlson began the third quarter on a tear, scoring on pair of layups, and converting a three-point play on the second to put Batavia up 31-13, a lead that extended to 20 by the end of the quarter.
The Saints' shots began to fall as the fourth quarter progressed with Lexi Diorio and Emma Yakey sinking 3-pointers.
All nine players who entered the game for the Bulldogs scored, led by Carlson's 17 points. Tessa Towers had 8 points and 10 rebounds, while Morgan Haug had 7 rebounds and 2 points. Jacque Schoeder, Kylee Gehrt and Alyssa Sarik each had 4 points.
The Saints lost one of their top scoring options in junior Torrie Kortan, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent left ankle injury and did not return. Kortan finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds. Diorio have 5 points and 3 rebounds while Alexis Maridis had 7 points.
The Saints (3-4, 3-3) are still getting their youth-infused team in-sync on a play-by-play basis, evidenced by the volume of turnovers.
"I think it was we might've come into the game a little too confident," said Saints senior Makenna Brown, who had 5 points and 6 rebounds.
"At halftime, we just talked as a team and [said] 'we've got to pull this win'. This is now our third loss in a row, so it's very disappointing," Brown said.