ST. CHARLES – Pass more, play in transition more, then bring on the high-fives.
St. Charles North’s blueprint for success during Tuesday’s girls basketball game against Crystal Lake South sounded elementary enough even if the team hadn’t recognized youth players before tipoff.
As the North Stars followed through after a tight first half, their grins and the path to a 68-60 victory only widened.
North (5-6) trailed, 31-30, at halftime, remaining close despite a Crystal Lake South rebounding edge keyed by senior forward Sara Mickow’s game-high 20 boards.
“When the ball comes off of the kid’s hand, she just reads it,” Gators coach Kyle McCaughn said. “She understands if it’s long, short right away. She’s got that natural instinct to locate herself where that ball is most likely coming off. And she’s got quick hops. I mean, she’s quick off of her feet, so she really does a wonderful job on the boards for us.”
A 43-27 advantage on the glass allowed Crystal Lake South (8-5) to build an early lead. The Gators also exploited North’s struggles to get back in transition. Chanel Fanter, who matched Mickow with a team-high 16 points, had 14 points before the break.
Attacking the basket and defending with more even aggressiveness after halftime allowed North to open the third quarter on a 9-0 run. Davidson, who finished with a game-high 21 points, scored seven points in that span.
With the North Stars (25 for 55, 45 percent) outshooting the Gators (20 for 57, 35 percent), any quick burst proved even more crucial.
“We went toe to toe with them for the better part of that first half, but, boy, they made a nice run there at the start of the third quarter, and we just didn’t respond,” McCaughn said.
The Gators again played without junior forward Carly Nolan, who missed the game to undergo physical therapy for an undisclosed injury.
McCaughn said “there is no word” on her return.
Kianna Clark added 12 points for the Gators, including a runner that dropped just before the final buzzer.