Team effort sends St. Charles North past Downers Grove South
With eight consecutive winning seasons, the St. Charles North girls basketball program has put together a nice little string of success.
Behind a strong core of players returning to the court this winter, the North Stars are expecting nothing less than continuing that.
They started off on the right foot Monday in their season opener, knocking down 11-three pointers in a 58-39 win over Downers Grove South as part of the York Thanksgiving Tournament in Elmhurst.
Reagan Sipla led all scorers with 14 points, making four trifectas, including a pair in the first quarter as her team jumped out to a 15-10 advantage.
"We are super excited about this season," Sipla said. "We've got a lot of talented players. We've got a lot of good shooters, we have players who can attack, we have players who can handle the ball and we have players who can rebound. Everybody can just do their part.
"Definitely in a first game, there are things you find that you need to work on. But for a first game, I thought we came out and played well. We were hitting open looks and involving everyone. It was great to see everyone contributing and that will continue throughout the season."
Indeed, St. Charles North had six players who scored five or more points. Katrina Stack also checked into double figures with 13 points, five of which came in the second quarter as the North Stars closed out the half on a 6-0 run to lead 27-21.
A trio of three-pointers to begin the third quarter, two by Eva Saltsman and one by Erin Stack, pushed the margin into double digits. Saltsman finished with eight points and Stack totaled seven points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
"We are all really close with each other even outside basketball," said Erin Stack, who is one of three players along with Morgan Klug and Saltsman who are in their fourth year on the varsity, "and that really helps with on the court things. We want each other to succeed. It's not, 'I want to do this.' Everyone is really happy for each other, happy to see others succeed.
"Especially with our senior class, we all have the game goal of winning a regional. We have a very talented, close-knit team and that will be possible for us this year."
Alyssa Hughes contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three steals and Klug had five points and four rebounds for St. Charles North, which went 12-3 in the shortened last season.
"Selflessness is something we pride ourselves on," St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak said. "This is a great group of girls that gets along so well and they move the ball as well as you can. We emphasize making the extra pass and they've taken to that."
The Mustangs, who received nine points apiece from Emily Petring and Deanna Eslit, showed a lot of promise from a group that doesn't return a lot of varsity experience. Downers Grove South went on a 9-3 spurt in the second quarter to tie the score at 21-apiece, highlighted by back-to-back baskets from Na'Kiyah Robertson, who added eight points. The team also had a 6-0 run to pull within 36-29 in the third quarter.
"I thought the way we played was encouraging," Downers Grove North coach Lyndsie Long said. "We were a little rusty, we have several new players, and we just have to work the system and figure out what the best option is every possession instead of turning the ball over. But St. Charles North is a team that will probably go pretty far this year. They have a lot of shooters and height. I'm proud of how we played."