June 16, 2024

Whereas taking part in her main sport, St. Charles North’s Laney Stark is all about offense.

The Inexperienced Bay soccer recruit excels on the offensive finish. On the subject of basketball, nonetheless, the senior guard shifts her focus to the much less glamorous facet of issues — protection.

Stark set the single-season program file for steals final season with 105, her first with the North Stars after transferring from Bartlett. She’s on tempo to interrupt her file midway by way of this season as effectively, with 68 by way of 16 video games.

“I’ve at all times had the love for it,” Stark stated. “I at all times love having to stuff somebody up and create offense for my staff. They love the shoot, and I like producing that for them.”

Stark’s function in that strain protection has elevated this season for the North Stars (14-2).

She’s now on the prime of the press the entire sport relentlessly hounding opponents, together with her soccer conditioning protecting her lively your complete time.

“When children could be multisport athletes, it helps in all of their sports activities,” St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak stated. “She strikes on the ground like a soccer participant does.

“She’s all offense, on a regular basis in soccer. However you’ll be able to undoubtedly see the profit (in basketball). She has a nostril for the ball.”

Stark’s dedication to that finish of the ground doesn’t go unnoticed by her teammates both.

Reagan Sipla usually receives the advantages from Stark’s steals and deflections. The Quinnipiac recruit is aware of that helps the North Stars create extra offense.

“It says so much about her as a teammate that she needs to step into that function,” Sipla stated. “She’s there for the staff to win. It opens up extra alternatives, whether or not it’s in transition or simply typically.

“It offers us power. It offers us a lift.”

The opposite factor that stands out is Stark brings that stage of depth each sport.

“She is aware of that’s her energy,” Sipla stated. “She is aware of she’ll be bringing it each time, and we are able to count on that as a staff and as a program.”

Larkin's Gabrielle Ploche (11) drives into St. Charles North's Laney Stark (1) during a game at Burlington Central on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

One situation Stark encountered at instances as a junior was stepping into foul hassle by being too aggressive. That hasn’t been the case this season.

Stark has been much more productive, creating turnovers whereas concurrently remaining on the courtroom for longer stretches.

“She’s rather more technically sound,” Tomczak stated. “It’s extremely troublesome to do.”

Stark pointed on the market was nothing technically she did to enhance in that space. The distinction between soccer and basketball exists.

It’s being aware of that within the second that has led to her enchancment.

“It’s simply my aggressiveness,” Stark stated. “In soccer you’ll be able to simply go hit somebody, and you may’t do this in basketball. Once I swap from soccer to basketball, it may be laborious at first.

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“I’ve to consider it for some time. After some time, you get used to it. Simply hold your fingers off, strive to not step in entrance of anyone.”

St. Charles North's Laney Stark (19) looks to pass against Barrington's Ellie Sanchez  (19) during the Class 3A Barrington Supersectional on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

One other factor that transfers from the soccer area to the courtroom is learning angles and figuring out easy methods to anticipate the place passes are going to go.

That has helped her be capable to decide and select when to strike.

“I prefer it so much,” Stark stated. “It’s very tiring, however it’s at all times loads of enjoyable as a result of my function is to get deflections so my teammates can get steals. I’ve loads of freedom up prime to do what you assume goes to power folks to show the ball over.”

Tomczak stated Stark’s teammates feed off her defensive power.

“Protection just isn’t one thing that actually will get a ton of consideration,” Tomczak stated. “You need to decide to it. She’s taken that on her shoulders and takes pleasure on that facet of the ball.”

Paul Johnson is a contract reporter for The Beacon-Information.