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St. Charles North's Quinten Payne handles the ball against St. Charles East during Wednesday's regional semifinal game in South Elgin. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Quinten Payne and his St. Charles North teammates never lost sight of their main objective Wednesday night.
Playing crosstown rival St. Charles East for the fourth time this season, the North Stars earned one of their most satisfying victories of the year with a dominating 69-53 triumph in the semifinals of the Class 4A South Elgin Regional.
Payne poured in a game-high 26 points for St. Charles North (18-10), which advances to play Larkin in Friday’s championship game. The North Stars also salvaged a season split against the Saints, with their finest effort coming when it mattered most.
“This is a great win for us,” Payne said. “Everybody looks at it as you have to be more excited because it’s St. Charles East, but it’s win or go home and I think that overpowers any rivalry.”
St. Charles North took the lead for good in the middle of the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half. The North Stars dominated every area of the game, finishing with a 34-23 rebounding advantage while connecting on 50 percent (22-for-44) of their shots.
While Payne shouldered the heaviest scoring load, St. Charles North got contributions from up and down its lineup. Justin Stanko provided a huge spark early and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Kyle Swanson added nine points and Jake Ludwig tallied eight off the bench.
“Sometimes (assistant) coach (Rob) Prentiss or I will single a kid out for having an outstanding performance,” St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. “I feel like we could single out every kid we put in the game tonight for impacting the game in a positive way.”
Winners of five of their past seven games, the North Stars will now try to topple a Larkin team they lost to twice during the regular season.
For St. Charles East (15-12), the loss marked a disappointing end to a season that began with high expectations. The Saints dropped their final four games and went 7-9 after Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens was lost for the season in late December with a shoulder injury.
Junior guard Dom Adduci scored 15 points Wednesday to lead St. Charles East, which connected on only 17 of its 53 shots (32.1 percent). Sophomore Jake Asquini added 11 points and sophomore Cole Gentry had nine.
“This was not our night,” St. Charles East coach Pat Woods said. “Credit (St. Charles North). Payne was a beast as always and they played really well as a team.”
ST. CHARLES NORTH 69, ST. CHARLES EAST 53
St. Charles North (17-10)
Payne 8 9-12 26, Stanko 6 1-5 13, Swanson 1 7-7 9, Ludwig 2 3-3 8, Thomas 2 1-1 5, Callaghan 2 0-0 4, Miller 1 1-2 3, Theile 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 23-32 69.
St. Charles East (15-12)
Adduci 4 5-6 15, Asquini 3 2-2 11, Gentry 4 0-0 9, McQullan 2 1-3 7, Washington 1 2-2 4, Windau 2 0-0 4, Skoog 1 0-0 2, Liss 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 11-15 53.
SCN 12 20 17 20 -- 69
SCE 9 12 12 20 -- 53
Three-point goals -- SCN: 2 (Ludwig, Payne). SCE: 8 (Asquini 3, Adduci 2, McQullan 2, Gentry). Fouled out -- SCN: None. SCE: Skoog.