St. Charles East storms past Elk Grove

There’s no question St. Charles East junior Matt Steinberg is a gifted athlete.

His fastball tops out at 88 mph.

He has a 37-inch vertical, which helps him sky for rebounds.

And he’s built like a tank, with some impressive weightlifting numbers — and videos — of his exploits on his X site.

St. Charles East coach Rob Klemm was certainly happy to see a healthy and active Steinberg on Monday night.

Steinberg finished with eight points and 12 rebounds to spark the Saints to a 71-44 victory over Elk Grove in a Class 4A St. Charles East regional quarterfinal game.

St. Charles East junior forward Brad Monkemeyer poured in a game-high 18 points in limited minutes.

The Saints (10-21) advance to play York in a 6 p.m. Wednesday regional semifinal at St. Charles East.

Steinberg’s presence in the paint fueled a second quarter run that turned a close game into a rout. The 6-foot-4 forward said he’s happy to be a key contributor after missing a handful of games.

“About two and a half weeks ago, I rolled my ankle and fought back and recovered (fast) because I wanted to be here for my team and to play,” Steinberg said. “(Tonight) felt good. Coming into the game, I knew they were a shorter team and I could take advantage of that and grab some boards and pass out to my teammates.”

Steinberg said he’s zeroed-in on his role for the Saints this season. He started “12 games before I rolled my ankle” but is now coming off the bench.

“Rebound, box out and make every layup possible,” Steinberg said of his role. “This was a great team win.”

He performed his role to perfection against the Grenadiers, leaping high for eight defensive boards and four on the offensive end. His size, strength and leaping ability infused the Saints with energy during pockets of the game, including an impressive grab of a high rebound that caused a stir in the crowd.

“Matt was playing so great for us but unfortunately had an ankle sprain,” Klemm said. “He came back last week, so having him back brings another level of energy and toughness, especially coming off the bench. Some of his rebounds tonight were impressive. He just brings a spark off the bench and everybody feeds off it.

St. Charles East junior guard Sam Tisch said he enjoyed his first varsity playoff win after playing on the sophomore team last season. He drilled a fourth quarter three-pointer to end with nine points in 22 minutes.

“This year I’ve been trying to provide for my teammates by setting good screens, pass the ball and just be an all-around player for my team and help us win games,” Tisch said. “I’ve learned how to be a competitor and compete against seniors older than me. This feels great. It was a nice team win. We played as a team.”

Klemm said the quarterfinal victory was a good momentum builder for Wednesday’s game against York.

“We came out and played hard,” Klemm said. “Our method was to have mentality and come out and start strong.

“Sam has been steady the whole year and is somebody we can go to. He always guards the best player and is solid offensively and seems to always be in the right spot.”

The Grenadiers (4-26) closed out a tough season with a difficult loss, but they had several memorable plays to add to their end-of-the-season highlight tape, including a deep 3-pointer by Daryl Hunt at the end of the second quarter and an acrobatic no-look tip-in by Frank Knight. Senior Lucas Rogers led the Grenadiers with nine points.

“We had a good high character group, especially our seven seniors,” Elk Grove coach Nick Oraham said. “They brought it every day, no matter what our record was or no matter what happened the game before. They always had belief and came ready to play and gave our best effort.”

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