Aggressive defense and balanced offense.

It’s a good recipe for success, and it’s certainly working for the North Star girls basketball team.

With three players in double figures, the Cougars played for the first time at home this year and earned a 63-39 WestPAC victory over Rockwood on Monday night.

Nicole Pelesky and Cara Studer each scored 12 points and Brittany Danel added 11 as the Cougars overwhelmed the youthful Rockets during the first half.

Andrea Weimer cracked double-digits for Rockwood, finishing with 10.

“We had three girls in double figures, and then we had one with eight (Chelsea Danel) and a couple with six (Jessica Tomlinson and Nikki Smith),” Cougars coach Ed Danel said. “It was good, balanced scoring. It’s the way we’ve been doing it for a couple of years now at North Star and I hope it continues.”

North Star (5-0) pulled out to a 12-5 first quarter advantage and increased that lead to 37-12 at half before playing even with Rockwood (1-3) through the final two quarters.

In fact, the Rockets were able to outscore the Cougars during the second half, a fact that had to please first-year Rockets coach Mary Jane Eaton.

“They have a great work ethic, they enjoy the game of basketball and they are very dedicated,” Eaton said of her players. “They will definitely turn it around. It’s still early in the season and I look for great things from them.”

North Star built its first-quarter advantage with its usual blend of frenetic defense and capitalized when chances presented themselves on the offensive end.

“We’ve been working really hard on our press and when we all work together, it all works out well,” Studer said.

And Studer should know. She is one of four returning starters from last year’s District 5 championship team.

Another frequent contributor to that team, Laurel Lichvar, has earned her spot in the starting lineup, bringing stingy defense to a Cougars lineup that is quick to the ball.

“We want to pressure the ball a lot and get the rebounds,” Lichvar said. “We work real hard at practice at coming out and pressuring the ball.”

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