ST. CHARLES – Claire Jakaitis swooped through the paint and laid the ball off the glass, a recurring sight early in the nightcap of Wednesday’s Class 4A St. Charles North Regional girls basketball doubleheader.
Pumping his fist, Jakaitis’ coach, North’s Sean Masoncup, screamed, “ALL DAY!”
Nearly one quarter passed before Masoncup returned to the phrase.
North endured a lengthy lull en route to routing Glenbard East, 53-20, in the night’s second semifinal. The victory helped North climb above .500 against Glenbard schools this season, but more importantly set up a rubber match with crosstown rival St. Charles East for the regional title at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s going to be a best two out of three kind of thing,” said North junior forward Claire Jakaitis, who scored 23 points. “So we’re hoping to beat them again here. It’ll be a good game, but I’m excited for it.”
East earned its ninth straight victory to start the night, defeating Glenbard North, 67-48.
With Saints senior point guard Katie Claussner enduring an uncharacteristic cold spell, East (20-7) subsisted on its perimeter game.
Senior Kyra Washington, Claussner’s longtime friend and a fellow college recruit, drilled 5 of her 8 attempts from long range in the first half, including a 3 of 4 effort in the second quarter.
Washington favored the wing spots when she let fly. She released from the left side with 2:11 to go before halftime, her trey providing a much-coveted, double-digit lead for the Saints, who had a 34-23 advantage at the break.
“Whatever I have open,” Washington said, “but I do, I really love the 3. … It was just good ball movement and finding the open player with the skip passes.”
Glenbard North (11-15) held Washington scoreless after halftime, but couldn’t completely shackle a balanced attack.
Saints freshman forward Sara Rosenfeldt matched the Panthers’ Jennifer Deegan with a game-high 16 points, while sophomore guard Samantha Munroe added 14.
“I think we got a boost in our intensity and our energy level after halftime,” Munroe said. “Once we started making baskets and moving the ball around, we just started working as a team, and it felt good.”
Behind aggressive defense, North (19-8) limited Glenbard East (16-15) to 20 percent first-half shooting to seize control of its semifinal.
The Rams didn’t eclipse double figures until 4:11 remained in the third quarter.
Leading scorer Brasia Solid had seven points, three less than Jakaitis’ first quarter total.
Jakaitis went 6 for 8 from the field in the first half, while North shot just better than 50 percent overall before the break despite some extended shakiness.
“We just really focused in on feeding it into Claire and getting her open and making sure she gets the ball, because there was a mismatch on her,” North junior forward Morgan Rosencrants said.
Jakaitis credited North’s depth for creating opportunities. Kyla Helsel followed with 11 points.
“Me, Nichole (Davidson), Morgan – all of us can score out there,” Jakaitis said. “Tonight was just my night to get there.”
East and North split the regular season series, with both schools winning at home. North rolled, 61-43, in the most recent meeting on Jan. 17.