ELMHURST – The Sean Masoncup era at St. Charles North did not start with a win Friday night, but that doesn’t mean it was an unsuccessful beginning.
The North Stars lost to Wheaton North, 67-62, in the first game of the York Thanksgiving Tournament.
“Obviously, I’d like to get the win, but I thought the girls played hard,” Masoncup said. “It was an exciting basketball game for the first game of the season. … We have a lot of things to work on, but there’s definitely signs we can be pretty good by the end of the year.”
One of those signs was the play of junior forward Nichole Davidson, who scored 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
“I thought we did so good,” Davidson said. “We had so much good effort. We hustled. Comparing from last year to this year, we’ve improved so much.”
Davidson showed an ability to score in the paint, from the baseline, and even from the outside. Her near-3 from the left side gave the North Stars a 31-20 lead late in the second quarter.
“I tried my best and I gave good effort,” Davidson said. “Coach has been telling me to work on my defense and be able to just work hard, so that’s what I did.”
Davidson had a pair of blocks and also came up with two steals.
The game was a back-and-forth tussle with a lot of physical play, which led to a lot of foul calls.
The North Stars eventually had three starters foul out, including Davidson and sophomore forward Morgan Rosencrants, who picked up three fouls in the first three minutes of the game.
“I thought some of the ones [Rosencrants] got were some tough calls, especially with what was going on inside,” Masoncup said. “She needs to learn from that – she’s a sophomore – and we move forward. She’s going to have to go against some big girls in our conference.”
Going up against Wheaton North’s 6-1 senior forward Chrissy Baird was good practice for Rosencrants and the rest of the North Stars. Baird had some foul problems of her own in the first half and was limited to two points, but the UCLA recruit came on strong in the second half, scoring 16 points to help the Falcons erase a 34-28 halftime deficit.
Doing the most damage for Wheaton North, however, was junior Kelly Thornton. She scored 22 points and banked in a runner at the third-quarter buzzer that gave the Falcons a 53-51 lead.
St. Charles North pulled to within one three times in the fourth quarter, but was never able to regain the lead. The North Stars had a pair of chances to tie the game or take the lead in the final minute, but missed on a 3-point try and also committed a costly turnover. They had 26 turnovers on the night.
“We made some mistakes,” Masoncup acknowledged. “They’re a young team. If I’m looking at improvement, I think I’ve seen it just since the start of the year. They had a rough go of it last year against Wheaton North, so we’re making strides.”
Junior guard Sam Novak added 15 points for St. Charles North and sophomore forward Lauren Neslund did a nice job picking up some of the slack for the foul-plagued Rosencrants, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds.