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St. Charles North notches 1st win in home opener
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/5/2012 12:43 AM

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OK, all you North Stars can exhale.

And celebrate.

Which is just what St. Charles North did Tuesday night, the whoops and shouts of joy coming from their meeting room after a 45-40 win over Grayslake Central the sounds of young team who has gone through some early-season growing pains who were relieved to finally notch their first win of the season.

St. Charles North (1-8) did it by playing its best stretch of basketball over the fist two-and-a-half quarters, then holding on for dear life down the stretch.

Grayslake Central (4-4) used a 19-3 run spanning the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to trim what had looked like a commanding 34-17 North Stars lead down to 37-36 and 38-37 in the final two minutes.

But the North Stars made the free throws when they had to — including a combined 7 of 8 by Nicole Davidson and Allie Reed — to hold off the Rams.

“It was a little nerve-wrecking but we just had to keep calm, keep our composure and I think we did pretty well in the fourth quarter,” said senior Alex Silverman, who led the North Stars with 14 points including three 3-pointers.

“It (the first win) means a lot. We’ve been on a slump lately and to get your first win on your home court feels good.”

The North Stars’ first eight losses came on the road. They looked glad to be home early, especially with their shooting.

After making just 24 percent of their shots in a loss Saturday at St. Charles East, the North Stars hit 50 percent (14 of 28) on Tuesday as they built a 15-8 lead after one quarter and 24-15 at halftime.

“(My 3-pointers) were falling and going good,” Silverman said. “I think it’s a little easier shooting at home knowing the rims and your baskets.”

The Rams hurt themselves at the free-throw line in the first half, missing their first 6 attempts. It didn’t get much better in the second half as they finished 7 of 20.

“I thought our focus was off,” Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. “I thought on the defensive end we didn’t play a focused game, we played in spurts. And free-throw shooting was somewhat like that too. It wasn’t a lack of effort. We’re a young team like they are and young teams kind of go up and down.”

The North Stars, who never trailed in the game, opened the second half scoring 10 of the first 12 points to take their biggest lead. Ashling Davern, Davidson, Morgan Rosencrants and Silverman all had baskets in the run.

The Rams started their comeback on a bucket from Taylor Peterson, who came off the bench to lead both teams with 10 rebounds to go with her 7 points.

Maddy Miller made the Rams’ only 3-pointer to bring them within 35-28 entering the fourth quarter. Sam Novak sank a long jumper to put the North Stars up 37-28, then they didn’t make another field goal over the final 7 minutes of the game.

Morgan Dahlstrom scored a game-high 21 points, and her second-chance basket from the baseline brought the Rams within 37-36 with 1:54 left. After Silverman and Peterson traded free throws, Davidson hit 4 straight from the line to push the North Stars’ lead to 42-37 with 39 seconds left.

Reed added 3 more free throws as the North Stars outscored the Rams’ 14-7 at the line.

“That confidence and composure on the free-throw line was just unbelievable,” said North Stars coach Colleen Backer who was just as excited about the win as her players.

“I was a little afraid are we going to play not to lose or play to win and they played to win. It was great to see. I’m so happy. It got a little scary at the end. No, we don’t want it to get in those scary situations. But we were so excited as a team that we powered through and it was such a team effort and they were able to go through that challenge when things weren’t going well. They adjusted together and are very excited as I am.”

Davidson joined Silverman in double figures with 10 points while Rosencrants tallied 7 and five different bench players also scored. Backer praised the work of Liz McNally, Rosencrants and Lauren Durocher on the Rams’ skilled post, Dahlstrom.

Miller added 9 points for the Rams.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Ikenn said. “It was a bump in the road.

“We spent so much energy coming back. It would have been more efficient to come out with that to begin with and we wouldn’t have been down so much and it would have been a very different ballgame.”