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Davidson on upswing for St. Charles North girls basketball

St. Charles North junior Nichole Davidson laughs with coach Sean Masoncup during Friday’s practice in St. Charles.
St. Charles North junior Nichole Davidson laughs with coach Sean Masoncup during Friday’s practice in St. Charles.

St. Charles North junior forward Nichole Davidson aspired to play collegiately from the time she first picked up a basketball as a first-grader.

Doubling her scoring average from last season reinforces the notion that Davidson’s best basketball still is ahead of her.

So far, so good this season entering Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division road game at Geneva. One of the area’s most improved players, Davidson is hovering around 17 points a game – approaching twice her mark of 9.4 as a sophomore – while her intangibles keep trending upward, too.

“Last year, I didn’t have as much confidence as I should have,” Davidson said. “This year, I have it with me all the time.”

Davidson admittedly felt nerves during key spots last season, whether she took aim with long jumpers or was called on to drive the lane.

At 5-foot-11, she offers first-year North coach Sean Masoncup the luxury to do both. Davidson’s range extends to within a few steps inside the arc, and she’s agile enough to beat most posts to the basket if other teams use bigs to defend her.

After studying tape from former coach Colleen Backer’s final season at North, Masoncup found Davidson “fit into the system perfectly.”

She is free to use her athleticism offensively or as North gets into transition. The biggest difference is her newfound ability to go strong to the basket or at least be a more solid decision-maker with the ball.

“She’s just grown as a basketball player while her teammates have done a good job of getting her open,” Masoncup said. “She’s definitely had the hot hand lately.”

Davidson scored 29, 25 and 22 points in the North Stars’ past three games at Dundee-Crown’s Charger Classic, helping the team go 2-2 and earn a tournament split after struggling in its opener against eventual champion New Trier.

Even as Naperville Central defended her with a box-and-one after halftime in the Classic finale, Davidson adapted to the extra attention by ratcheting up her own ‘D.’

“Coach has told me that this year is my year to prove to everyone that I’m better, and I needed to show my strength,” Davidson said. “I’ve just been pushing myself every game.”

Davidson’s added urgency has rubbed off on younger teammates, which should prove beneficial for a team that mostly relies on underclassmen.

Sophomore forward Morgan Rosencrants, another dual-threat type, especially has lauded her friend’s ability to inspire her fundamental development. Like Davidson, Rosencrants played in each of North’s 29 games as a freshman, averaging 7.6 points, third-most on the team.

“We didn’t really know each other, and then we were on the same team together,” Rosencrants said. “She helped me and I helped her, and that definitely brought us closer.”

With Monday’s practice canceled because of severe cold weather that closed schools around the region, North took an impromptu team-bonding trip to St. Charles Bowl.

While Davidson finished first on the team, she made sure not to get ahead of herself. Even a meager bowling average transcends the best basketball average, but confidence always can be a constant.

“I just can’t be nervous and have to know it’s going to go in, so I have to try my best,” Davidson said.

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