STREAMWOOD – With her team having given up seven straight points and clinging to a one-point lead against host Streamwood midway through the fourth quarter, St. Charles East guard Amanda Hilton stepped up big-time Tuesday.
Coming out of a timeout, Hilton drilled a three-pointer to give her team a 49-45 lead and hit another one later in the quarter during a 10-0 run that gave East a 61-48 advantage en route to a 61-50 win in an Upstate Eight Conference River Division battle.
The win gave the Saints a leg up on the Sabres as East improved to 6-5 overall, 4-0 in the UEC River. Streamwood fell to 8-2 overall, 3-1 in the River.
“It felt really good,” said Hilton, who tied for game-high point honors with Streamwood’s Deja Moore with 25. “My teammates helped me out and got me open. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.
“It was a really big win. It feels really good to be undefeated in conference. We are doing a really nice job working as a team.”
Saints coach Lori Drumtra said winning on the Sabres’ home court was huge.
“This has been a hard gym for us,” she said. “It has been at least three years since we’ve been able to get a win in this gym. So it is nice to get a win here.”
Streamwood led, 15-13, after a first quarter that included nine lead changes, but the Saints stepped up their defense in the second quarter and took a 22-21 lead at halftime.
Hilton scored nine first half points, all in the first quarter, while Moore matched that total for the Sabres.
The Saints turned it up in the third quarter, turning a one-point lead into a six-point advantage, 44-38.
But the key to the game was the final 4:34, after Streamwood cut the lead to 46-45 and Drumtra called a timeout.
After Hilton hit her three, Moore scored for Streamwood to cut the lead to two, but Hannah Nowling responded with a bucket to put the Saints back up by four, 51-47.
Moore then split a pair at the line to cut the lead to 51-48, but the Saints responded with 10 straight points, including another Hilton three-pointer to make it 54-48, and two free throws from Paige Jordan to make it 56-48 with 2:20 to go. Carly Pottle and Kyra Washington followed with baskets to put the game away.
“We were able to put pressure up top and the full-court really helped us,” Hilton said.
“Sometimes we get a little shaky [when the other team goes on a run], so I was real pleased,” Drumtra said of her team’s poise in the fourth quarter.
“We should be doing that at this point in the season. With a group of seniors like that with experience, and with the ball handlers we have, we should be able to do that.”
Sabres coach George Rosner said his team should have knocked the Saints out when they cut the lead to 46-45.
“That is when we should have won the game,” he said. “We should have pulled away. We are at home, made a great comeback, forced them to call a timeout and we didn’t put it away.
“[Drumtra] called a good timeout when we cut it to one. It settled them down and they came right back and scored on us. We gave them a three and two easy baskets.”
Drumtra said it was nice to stay undefeated in the River, but said the race is far from over.
“We have to face them all again,” she said. “It would be nice if we didn’t have to face Geneva or Streamwood again. We have Batavia still ahead of us. But it was a nice start for the girls. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Jordan added 12 and Pottle 10 for the Saints. McGlone had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Sabres.
“We didn’t hit shots early and we stopped getting the ball to Hannah late,” Rosner said. “It was a combination of that and poor defense. We gave them 61 points without them getting one post-up layup. Everything was drive layups or outside shots.”