Girls basketball: St. Charles East coach Katie Claussner re-instilling 'Saints Way'
The next era of St. Charles East girls basketball has arrived.
Katie Claussner, the newly-hired St. Charles East girls basketball coach, is a 2015 program graduate. A former team captain, leading in points and assists her final two varsity seasons and a Kane County Chronicle Player of the Year, Claussner is now ushering in the next era of girls basketball for a program she poured her "heart and soul" into as a player.
"I went into [assistant coach James] Hawkins' office today and I'm like 'I can't even imagine the situation right now," Claussner said following their 58-48 season-opening loss to Prospect at the 12th annual York Thanksgiving Tournament. "Eight years ago, I'm sitting in this room talking about [getting ready to go] into a game and now we're game-planning together. It's pretty crazy."
The opportunity ahead, and the significance it holds as a former player, "means everything."
"I have poured my heart and soul into this program as a player, and now, to be able to do it as a coach, and let these girls relive what it really means to be a Saint, is everything to me," Claussner said. "I know we kind of lost our way a little bit and now we're finding it. No matter what happened on the court today, we showed a huge switch to what the 'Saint's Way' is."
St. Charles East (0-1) and Prospect (1-0) were knotted at 44 with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Knights ripped off a 7-0 run to break it open on a layup by sophomore Alli Linke, a 3-pointer by Zoe Brown and ensuing layup after a steal by Linke for the 51-44 lead.
Saints sophomore Addie Schilb stopped the run with a layup and a pair of free throws to pull within three at 51-48, but Brown answered back with a pair of free throws of her own. The Saints then struggled with four turnovers down the stretch while Prospect finished with a 7-0 run to put the game away.
"I think it was one of those first games that took us awhile to get going," Prospect coach Matt Weber said. "Credit St. Charles East. They worked really hard and they came out, delivered the first punch and were super aggressive with us. It took us awhile to settle down, get back to playing together as a team and feeding into our defense and stuff like that."
Linke finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Brown had 10 points and eight rebounds for Prospect.
"[Linke and Brown] are returning starters for us. I think once we settled into a defensive rhythm in the fourth quarter; we always talk about 'good defense is going to lead to good offense' and we just fed off our defensive rhythm and it helped us piggyback into some good offensive possessions."
The Saints were able to welcome back senior point guard Alexis Maridis, who missed the vast majority of last season with a fractured tibia.
Maridis opened the season with an assist to Sydney Axelsen on a jumper, and later cashed-in another assist on a Saints layup. Maridis finished with four points and three assists while battling foul trouble.
"I felt great," Maridis said. " ... I feel good to be back. I feel healthy. I think this team has a lot of potential. We have a lot of young talent and I think we have a good senior class with leaders."
Claussner was excited to have Maridis back.
"We're [able] to get so many backdoor looks with her at the helm ... her ball-handling skills are going to carry us," Claussner said.
Schilb impressed with 13 points and a pair of rebounds in her debut, while Lexi DiOrio had 15 points and five rebounds. Corrine Reed had six points and seven rebounds. Axelsen had six points.
"I love coaching that girl," Claussner said. "She will do anything to help her teammates out in any sense. I tell her to get back, she gets back. I tell her to crash the boards, she does it and she does it full 100% hustle every time."