ST. CHARLES – It wasn’t exactly the way St. Charles East girls basketball coach Lori Drumtra envisioned starting the IHSA state playoffs Monday night against Lake Park, but she’s happy with a victory even if it came a little ugly.
Behind a 22-point performance from Katie Claussner, East earned a 67-49 win over Lake Park in the opening round of its own Class 4A regional.
With the victory, the Saints (17-11) advance to tonight’s regional semifinal game with No. 5-seeded Batavia at 7:30 pm.
“The first half was pretty ugly,” Drumtra said. “Amanda [Hilton] was having an off shooting night and Carly [Pottle] was maybe rushing it a little bit but I think that had to do with the adrenaline because we wanted this game so bad.”
The Saints allowed Lake Park to linger a little too long in the first half after a solid start to the contest. East raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes after a pair of baskets from Pottle and later extended their lead to 14-3 after Pottle scored her sixth point of the period.
But an 8-0 Lake Park run over the next four minutes allowed the Lancers to close the deficit to 14-11 at the 6:43 mark of the second. Lake Park then whittled East’s lead to 18-17 on 1 of 2 free throws, but the Saints responded by ending the quarter with an 8-3 spurt of their own, claiming a 26-20 edge at halftime.
“We had to find other ways to win,” Drumtra said,” and it was just a matter of calming down a little bit.”
East definitely calmed down at halftime and drastically changed things in the second half by practically putting the game away in the first four minutes as it put together a 16-0 run after Lake Park scored the first basket of the half. Eight of the 16 points came off the fast break and East forced 12 turnovers in the quarter to grab a commanding a 42-23 lead after Anna Bartels capped the run with a pair of free throws. East then extended their lead to as much as 19 in the fourth quarter at 55-36 after Pottle converted a pair of free throws with 6:35 left.
“We stepped up our pressure in the second half and that was definitely the biggest thing,” Drumtra said. “We may have been looking a little past this game because we have one of our rivals [tonight], but I’m glad we got to play this game because we were able to work out some of the nerves we had.”
Both Hilton and Pottle added 11 points each for the Saints while Emily Duckhorn scored 14 points to lead the Lancers.
“I give Lake Park a lot of credit,” Drumtra said. “They fought hard and played well, but we did a nice job of finishing the game.”