Maine West manages 7 second-half points vs. St. Charles North's pressure defense

St. Charles North was playing terrific defense.

Monday at the Dundee-Crown 39th annual Komaromy Classic, the North Stars used a relentless, baseline-to-baseline trapping press to hold their opponent, Maine West, to just two points in the first quarter.

Junior guard Laney Stark was a part of that effort, but for whatever reason, she felt she wasn't carrying her share of the load.

"I wasn't playing good defense in the first half," said Stark. "Coach (Mike) Tomczak talked to me, and told me just to go out there and be myself."

Stark took the coach's words to heart. She came out and played an outstanding final two quarters, and her eight straight points on drives to the basket in the third quarter - in the span of under two minutes - helped lead the North Stars to a 54-23 girls basketball win.

The stellar play of Stark, Reagan Sipla (16 points) and Alyssa Hughes (16 points) after intermission broke open a close game.

"She did struggle a little," said Tomczak of Stark, "and she'd be the first one to tell you that. But Laney is a great athlete, and we were able to get her touches in the high post (in the second half) going up against a bigger player. She was able to get some easy baskets."

St. Charles North led big after one quarter, but Maine West figured some things out in the second stanza and closed the gap.

Warriors guard Abby Decker swished a 3-pointer, Shannon Walsh scored 4 points, and when 6-foot forward Jaclyn Riedl had another 3 at the halftime buzzer, the North Stars' advantage was just 18-16.

"We had three days off and I think that showed tonight," said Tomczak. "We got a little gassed in the second quarter, but in the third quarter we came out with a new intensity."

Maine West played a strong game on defense in the first two quarters as well, limiting St. Charles North to 2-of-14 from 3-point range.

"We couldn't throw the ball in the ocean in the first half," said Tomczak.

Maybe so, but St. Charles North came out firing in the third quarter.

The North Stars (10-3) scored 20 points in the third stanza with Sipla, a junior, tallying 7.

Sipla proceeded to open the fourth with a 3. That gave St. Charles North a 19-point lead, and they went on from there.

Riedl paced Maine West (5-7) with 9 points, while 6-2 junior forward Katrina Stack of St. Charles North pitched in to the victory with 8 points.

"We came out really strong," said Stark, "and we had to come out strong to show up and show off who we are. We're always fighting to get the win, no matter what."

"I thought we came out with a lot of intensity in the first five minutes," added Tomczak. "When you can hold a varsity basketball team (as the North Stars did) to not even taking a shot in the first five minutes, you're doing something right."

"We try to be active, and we've got a lot of good athletes on this team. If we can pressure the opponent and make them uncomfortable, it creates more scoring opportunities for us."

St. Charles North advances to play Stevenson Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. while Maine West faces Naperville Central at 12:30 p.m.

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