Even with an unexpected recovery day between games at the IHSA Class 4A South Elgin Regional, the St. Charles North boys basketball team doesn’t figure to use its full-court press for the duration of tonight’s semifinal against St. Charles East.
For the game’s first few minutes, anyway, North looks to build off its recently installed kick-starter before returning to it as coach Tom Poulin sees fit.
“I think it just wakes our guys up from time to time, and at the start of the game it gets us going right away with some energy,” Poulin said. “I think it’s led to some high-percentage shots early in the game, which then, if you’ve seen the ball go through the hoop a couple times, then typically you shoot a little bit better as the game goes on.”
North (17-10) left little doubt about securing a fourth meeting with East (15-11) when it started 8 for 9 from the floor in Monday’s opening-round rout of the host Storm. The crosstown semifinal was postponed from 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to the same time today because of snowy weather.
While the Saints’ ballhandlers bring more seasoning than South Elgin – which started three freshmen – North enters with confidence it can rattle East.
The press was new to the North Stars when they successfully used it to take an early lead on the Saints in a 62-49 home victory Feb. 2.
“Every game that we do that, it brings motivation to the bench,” North senior forward Justin Stanko said. “And the players that come in, they have more motivation. It replicates to the bench, and we all just play good.”
Stanko tallied a season-high 17 points against South Elgin, including 10 in the game’s first 5:20, after which North led, 20-4. With trapping guards Alec Goetz and Tony Neari getting Stanko the ball as he trailed in transition, North unveiled other offensive options beyond senior standout Quinten Payne en route to its seventh win in eight games.
“We’ve got to the point where we’re starting to really share the ball offensively and get out and run on misses and then execute when the other team scores,” Poulin said. “A quick start, I think, allows our guys to play with a little bit more confidence and trust.”
Lately, that swagger has snowballed through the rest of the game.