Hughes tallies 25, shoots St. Charles North past York
St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak said it's Alyssa Hughes' show this winter and the rest of the North Stars are following her lead.
On Thursday night, the junior point guard proved she is more than capable of handling that responsibility.
Pouring in a game-high 25 points, Hughes led her team into the championship of the York Thanksgiving Tournament with a 53-44 win over the host Dukes.
St. Charles North (3-0) will face St. Charles East in the title game Friday.
"We are all really excited to have a somewhat normal season," said Hughes, in her third year on the varsity, "especially because last year was so short and to be able to be in a Thanksgiving tournament and play against teams we don't normally play against like York.
"Tonight it all started on the defensive side of the ball. I thought we had great intensity on that side of the court. And good defense leads to offense and that allowed us to get quality shots."
Indeed, even with a vast array of offensive firepower, it was the North Stars' defense that ultimately was the difference. St. Charles North held York without a field goal in the second quarter and for over 10 minutes total, turning a 19-13 lead after one quarter to a 44-19 advantage early in the third.
"We are making a point to practice our defense a lot," said Erin Stack, who also checked into double figures with 11 points to go along with four steals and two blocks. "It's something we want to be good at this year. It's something we want to emphasize, making a point of playing good defense. It we play defense, it converts (to offense)."
St. Charles North still showed off it's shooting prowess, knocking down eight 3-pointers. Reagan Sipla finished with nine points and Morgan Klug added six.
"Alyssa did a great job handling their pressure," Tomczak said. "We know she's an excellent three-point and free throw shooter. She did a great job controlling things and she did an excellent job on the defensive side.
"We know we have some very talented players skill-wise. If we compete on the defensive end like we did, filling gaps and boxing out bodies, I think we are pretty tough."
York made things interesting in the later stages, with its pressure defense leading to some easy baskets. The Dukes pulled within 42-29 heading into the final eight minutes and then held the North Stars to six points, all Hughes' free throws in the fourth.
Mariann Blass scored 16 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter, and Lizzie Baldridge had nine points. Stella Kohl tallied eight points.
The Dukes (2-1) will play for third place.
"I'm extremely proud of how we played at the end of the game, how hard we fought," York coach Brandon Collings said. "We've put in a new zone with a young team and it's only been two weeks with that new zone. They did a great job attacking it, they were ready for it.
"They got open looks. Later on in the season, hopefully those looks won't be open. But when we turned the pressure on late, you saw what our athleticism could do."