Batavia stymies St. Charles North in battle for DuKane lead

Every time St. Charles North’s girls basketball team threatened a comeback Saturday afternoon, Batavia had an answer.

Led by senior guard Brooke Carlson’s 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, the Bulldogs (19-5, 8-1) pulled away late for a 49-32 DuKane Conference victory over the host North Stars (19-3, 7-2).

With the win, Batavia remain tied with Geneva atop the DuKane Conference standings, as St. Charles North fell a game back. The Bulldogs visit Geneva on Jan. 26.

“It was a grind for us offensively, but I thought we played very well defensively,” said Batavia coach Kevin Jensen. “The mantra for us all year has been we over me. They truly play for one another. They did a great job.

“With the three of us tied at the top (coming in), this was a conference championship level type game. Our conference is so talented – everybody prepares for one another so well. It’s going to be a grind all the way through, but this was a step in the right direction in terms of trying to come out on top.”

The North Stars grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on Katrina Stack’s layup in the opening minute but managed just 1 more point the rest of the quarter as the Bulldogs built a 10-3 lead despite Carlson being held scoreless.

Junior forward Hallie Crane (7 points) provided a huge lift off the bench early with 5 of the Bulldogs’ 10 first-quarter points.

“Brooke is the high scorer, but we have a handful of other girls who at any time can get 7, 8, 10-12 points,” said Jensen. “There are seven girls all deserving of being in the starting lineup.”

Carlson’s 10 second-quarter points enabled the Bulldogs to extend their lead to 25-15 at halftime.

The North Stars pulled within 25-18 on a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Riley Barber (team-high 10 points, 6 rebounds), and kept within striking distance, trailing 33-24 heading into the final 8 minutes.

But Carlson began the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-point plays off North Stars turnovers, and junior guard Kaidyn King’s 3-point basket a few moments later stretched the lead to 42-24 and ended North’s comeback bid.

“As fast as she plays, she’s under control pretty much every moment,” Jensen said of Carlson, who recently surpassed former Bulldogs standout guard Liza Fruendt for second on the school’s career points list. “She’s that fast and athletic.

“She’s going at top speed and can absorb and finish a play – that’s pretty dang rare. Luckily, she’s on our side.”

Carlson also has the unique ability to get to the free-throw line, evidenced by her 11 made foul shots against the North Stars.

“We’ve been working on defense a lot,” said Carlson. “We kind of fell off the press a little bit in the middle of the season, but we’re back on it. Kylee (Gehrt) did a good job on Reagan (Sipla), and Addie (Prewitt) did a good job on Katrina (Stack). It was a great team win.”

Prewitt added 7 points and 6 rebounds for Batavia.

Sipla and Stack finished with 8 points apiece for the North Stars, who hit just 2 of 16 three-point attempts.

“It was frustrating because they’re tough and physical,” said North Stars coach Mike Tomczak. “They’re a real solid defensive team. You’re not going to win a lot of games scoring 32 points.

“They were harassing us. We need to get better against physical, man-to-man teams. This is a good lesson for us to get ready for the playoffs.”

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