St. Charles East wins third straight over St. Charles North
Lexi DiOrio's shot wasn't falling Saturday, but that didn't mean her attitude and competitive drive was going to take a dip.
St. Charles East's sophomore guard and second-year varsity starter missed her first eight shots during the Saints' game with St. Charles North. She finished with 13 points and eight rebounds to help power the Saints past the North Stars 60-40 for their third win over their crosstown rivals this season and fifth straight win overall.
Perhaps one of the best sequences to illustrate DiOrio's nonstop motor came midway through the fourth quarter. After a missed Saints 3-pointer, DiOrio stole the ball as the North Stars tried to set up a play on the opposite end, which led to Calli Papez's transition layup.
"That's what we kind of have been pushing for everybody, but her especially," Saints interim coach Josh Foster said. "She was a young player at the beginning of the year. Now, everybody's [more experienced than at the start]. She would get discouraged and we'd [as coaches say] 'No, no. Just keep playing and getting after it.' So, that's what we try to do, and she's getting better every single game."
"I tell them: 'You miss a shot? So what? They make a shot, so what? Just keep going. Just get to the next play,'" Foster continued.
Emma Yakey's 3-pointer with 5:07 remaining that put the Saints (15-5, 7-4) up 20 was the exclamation point they needed after both teams shot a combined 0-for-14 from the field to start the game. Saints senior Torrie Kortan's 3 with 2:53 in the first quarter was the first made field goal for either team.
"I don't think any of our shots were falling in the first half, but mine still wasn't in the second so I had to affect the game another way," DiOrio said. "We just kept finding the open person. We really focus on rebounding. Yesterday, in practice it was a big factor in what we were doing."
"There was a timeout in the third [where I was] like: 'Alright, Lexi, we got it get going; get the team going," DiOrio continued. "Then, we all just kind of came together after a timeout: This is what we want to do. We wanted to beat them in all three colors: black, white and now orange so it feels good. It was a good team effort."
Kortan finished with 19 points and five rebounds to lead the Saints. Alexis Maridis added nine points and five rebounds. Papez had seven points and eight rebounds, while Yakey had nine points.
The North Stars (14-12, 4-7) didn't get on the board until Alyssa Hughes' layup with 2:09 left in the first quarter. St. Charles North standout sophomore Reagan Sipla exited the game in the second quarter due to an apparent left knee injury sustained following a rebounding attempt.
Sipla eventually returned to the bench in the second half after evaluation, but did not re-enter. Her status for immediate future game availability is currently unclear.
The Saints opened the second half on a 6-0 run before Hughes' 3-pointer, but the lack of situational rebounding and missed shots cascaded for the duration of the half.
"It's interesting because we talked to our girls yesterday and again during walk-through today: I'm really proud of our coaching staff and our girls' ability to prepare for teams and take them out of what they want to do," North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. "We said: 'If we do our job, and we know their sets and we blow up what they want to do, then we're going to turn this into an open gym."
Hughes finished with 18 points and three rebounds, while Erin Stack had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the North Stars.
"If we do that," Tomczak continued. "Then, it's just a question of 'who wants it more?' I thought we were able to do that pretty early, and unfortunately, that question of who wanted it more was answered pretty early, especially on the offensive glass. I thought the offensive rebounding set the tone and it kind of stayed that way throughout."