St. Charles North’s defense frustrates Wheaton North

Wins have come in bunches this season for the St. Charles North girls basketball team, with a consistently strong defense leading the way.

But even so, the North Stars still need to be reminded on occasion to pick up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor. After a first half in which the team led 21-17 at Wheaton North, the visitors put on a pressure defense clinic for the final two quarters while limiting the Falcons to just three field goals as the visitors pulled away 41-27 to stay tied atop the DuKane Conference standings with Batavia.

The North Stars forced Wheaton North (14-9, 2-6) into 8 third-quarter turnovers and 23 on the night. With that defense taking control, St. Charles North (19-2, 7-1) outscored the Falcons 6-4 in a low-scoring third quarter, and then built a double digit lead in the final quarter.

“We started the second half and we knew we wanted to change our mentality,” North Stars senior Reagan Sipla said. “It’s something we do all the time. We just needed to show it. Picking up our defensive intensity really changed it for us. That’s what really got us going and put the game away for us.”

Sipla scored nine of her game-high 15 points in the second half, many of which were set up by turnovers. Teammates Mia Hoppes and Riley Barber each had 3 steals and Sipla added a pair of takeaways to go along with her 7 rebounds.

“Really our halftime message was we’re not playing hard enough defensively,” North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. “We hang our hats on our defense all year. We know if we do what we need to do on defense we’re going to be in every game.”

The North Stars managed to limit Wheaton North’s Sara Abdul to 7 points, none coming in the second half. The sharpshooter knocked down a 3-pointer and added a putback as the Falcons took a 5-4 lead early, but the hosts never led again and Abdul was limited to just a pair of free throws after that early burst.

“Their defense is just exhausting. In order to be real successful you’ve got to have people who can take care of it, make some passes, get in the lane….we definitely got tired in the third quarter,” Wheaton North coach Tyler Bantz said. “We tried to dribble around them too much and they got some turnovers. It’s tough to score when you don’t have the ball.”

Guard Laney Stark was solid for the North Stars, leading the way in the first half with 10 points on her way to 12 points and 3 assists. Katrina Stack added 6 rebounds for St. Charles North, which will take on Batavia Saturday in a first-place battle for the top spot in the DuKane Conference. Geneva also entered Thursday’s play at 6-1.

“As a team we all took care of our individual jobs and we played really well together,” Sipla said. “We definitely like the direction that’s it’s going and we want to keep it going.

“We’ve got big games coming up and we really want to finish strong in conference.”

For the Falcons, Elsa Carlson scored 12 points off the bench and senior Zoey Bohmer hustled her way to 8 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of steals.

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