ST. CHARLES – Quicker, deeper and healthier, the St. Charles North girls basketball team had little trouble Saturday evening the regular season series with rival St. Charles East.
The North Stars pulled away in the middle stages of the game and drew upon their substantial cushion to fend off the host Saints on Saturday, 63-54.
The game was played at a brisk pace, which seemed to favor the North Stars, especially in the aftermath of East point guard Amanda Hilton's recent season-ending injury.
For large stretches of the game, any possession that resulted in a half-court set was the exception to the rule – drive it at the rim as quickly as possible, preferably in transition.
"That's all we do in practice," North forward Nichole Davidson said. "We always just run the floor, run the floor. That's what our coach expects, and that's what we do."
North coach Sean Masoncup said playing fast is his expectation.
"That's what I know best, and that's what the girls like to play," Masoncup said. "And it's a fun game for the girls, playing uptempo and getting up and down. And I thought they did a great job of it."
Davidson scored 18 points and had six rebounds, and each of North's five starters scored at least six points, with forward Morgan Rosencrants chipping in 12 points and six rebounds.
The North Stars (10-10, 4-3 UEC River) also received a boost from reserve post Liz McNally, who recently returned from injury to enhance the team's frontcourt depth. McNally had seven points, two rebounds and a blocked shot.
North's interior passing often clicked, resulting in point-blank shots or East fouls.
"That was the key tonight, is we had to get them in foul trouble because they're not as deep without Hilton," Masconcup said. "And I feel terrible for that kid. She's a great kid."
Saints forward Kyra Washington scored a game-high 25 points, 19 of which in the second half, to keep East (10-11, 4-4 UEC River) competitive.
"I came an hour before we were supposed to be here, and I worked on my shot and stuff like that, and it paid off, so that was good," Washington said.
East trailed 31-21 at halftime and 48-34 after the third quarter, only returning the margin to single digits on a Washington 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
North's Ashling Davern and Kyla Helsel scored nine points each, while Katelyn Claussner had nine points and MacKenzie Meadows added eight for East, which defeated North, 72-68, in early December.
In that meeting, the Saints had Hilton, East's four-year starter at point guard who is done for the year with a kneecap fracture.
"We're not pushing the ball up the court as fast, and it's hard to set up the plays," Washington said of moving on without Hilton. "She usually gets everyone under control, so it's hard doing that. She's just a great team leader. It's hard to replace that spot, too."