At 6-foot-1, St. Charles North’s Reagan Sipla combines the size of a post player with the skills of a guard. It makes her one of the area’s most difficult defensive matchups.
But what does Sipla think?
“I would say I’m a versatile guard, especially at my height,” she said. “I can create shots for my teammates and I can create my own shots. It opens up a lot for my team.”
The junior guard displayed those traits Thursday in a 46-39 DuKane Conference win at Batavia. Sipla scored 15 points with six steals, five rebounds and three assists.
“She’s incredibly versatile,” North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. “She’s as long as you’re going to find in this area. She has guard skills, but she has post size.
“What she’s does is get into a lot of passing lanes and deflect balls. Offensively is where she makes her money. We ask her to do a lot of different things on both ends.”
Still, a big part of Sipla’s responsibility comes her effort on the defensive end for St. Charles North (15-4, 6-1).
While she didn’t guard Batavia star Brooke Carlson one-on-one, Sipla’s presence helped slow Carlson down.
After scoring 16 points in the first half to keep Batavia (12-8, 4-3) in the thick of things, Carlson ended up with a game-high 20.
“She’s the only player on our team that can play all three levels of our defense comfortably,” Tomczak said. “But that speaks to her versatility.”
Batavia jumped out to an 11-1 lead but trailed 26-25 at halftime. Carlson was on fire, hitting five 3-pointers.
“I knew she was tough,” Tomczak said. “I didn’t think she’d shoot 90% from three. It’s a credit to her. A lot of those shots in the first half were contested, but she hit them in rhythm.
“I thought Brooke has developed her game to another level. Two years ago, you let the kid shoot. Now, she can hit you from every level.”
The North Stars, though, turned up the heat defensively to take control of the game.
St. Charles North limited Batavia to three points in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 40-28 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Alyssa Hughes and Katrina Stack.
“I thought we came out with great energy in the second half,” Tomczak said. “To come out down 11-1 on the road in a tough place to play, I mean, you’re going to have a long night. But we fought back.”
Batavia didn’t back down, however. The Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run and cut the deficit to 42-39.
The North Stars iced the win at the line. Hughes, who scored a team-high 16 points, and Sipla each drained a pair of free throws in the final minute.
“I thought we battled back and played pretty awesome in the fourth quarter,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “We had a possession to try to tie it. I was proud of the girls. They battled like crazy.
“A couple more shots go in, we execute a little better and limit their top two to one less bucket each, that’s all it takes.”
Sipla’s unique skill set stood out to Jensen, especially due to her being 6-1.
“It’s almost more about the vision,” Jensen said. “When you’re going to shoot the ball, when you’re going to pass the ball, even when you’re driving, if somebody is guarding you and they’re 5-foot-8, they can be a pest.
“I feel like the longer I’ve coached, that’s the advantage. A girl can see and deliver a pass over you more than most. It’s a tough matchup.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.