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Article updated: 1/5/2012 10:05 PM
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Naperville North looking for tournament bounce
 

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Naperville North looking for tournament bounce
  • Photos from the Benet Academy at Naperville North High School boys basketball game Tuesday in Naperville.

    Purchase Photo | Photos from the Benet Academy at Naperville North High School boys basketball game Tuesday in Naperville. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 

Now the real work begins for Naperville North's boys basketball team.

The Huskies (8-4, 3-0 DuPage Valley Conference) looked impressive through most of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York, finishing fourth. They take an unbeaten DVC record into a huge doubleheader weekend.

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After playing Glenbard East (7-4, 2-1) on Friday, Naperville North faces West Aurora (11-2, 3-0) on Saturday. Both games are on the road for the Huskies.

A pair of victories would make quite a statement to the rest of the league.

"I think it's great timing," said Naperville North coach Jeff Powers. "Hopefully, we'll be ready to go. That's a tough weekend."

The Huskies definitely feel battle tested after playing Kenwood and Lyons Twp. in addition to state-ranked De La Salle and Downers Grove South at York.

"We played, in my opinion, three really good teams and a Kenwood team that was 6-1," Powers said. "I'm really proud of these boys. They're doing a really good job."

Holiday sports:

Before Hinsdale Central's opening game at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, first-round opponent Morgan Park was whistled for a technical foul because of what the officials deemed a violation of regulations regarding uniforms.

Instead of having his best shooter attempt the two free throws, however, Red Devils coach Nick Latorre chose to decide the game on the court. With great sportsmanship the 51st annual event began with a 0-0 score between Hinsdale Central and Morgan Park.

"We just decided it'd be appropriate to take the ball out of bounds and start the game," Latorre said. "It was the right thing to do."

The act of sportsmanship really stood out after the game. Morgan Park won 50-49 with a putback in the final seconds.

While it's easy to look at the missed opportunity of two pregame free throws as the difference, Latorre doesn't see it that way.

"I don't know if you can point to that one thing," he said. "There are so many things during a game that happen. Who knows? We may have missed both the free throws."

Hinsdale Central bounced back after the first-round loss by beating St. Patrick and Fenwick. The Red Devils (7-4, 2-1 West Suburban Silver) finished the tournament by losing to St. Joseph in the consolation final.

"There were some really good things that came out of the tournament," Latorre said. "Going to a tournament like that, you're looking at a bunch of great teams."

Reinforcements:

When Glenbard East (7-4, 2-1 DVC) began looking for a way to add a scoring boost to the lineup, the Rams didn't have to search far.

Coach Scott Miller promoted Jaron Hall from the sophomore level to help take the offensive pressure off senior forward Dante Bailey. The 5-foot-11 wing guard already has shown flashes of his scoring ability.

"He's real quick, probably the quickest kid on our team," Miller said. "He's a slasher, a scorer. He can shoot it a little."

Hall is now starting for the Rams, who went 2-2 at the State Farm Holiday Classic in central Illinois. He's played six varsity games heading into Friday's DVC home game against Naperville North, including a 15-point performance in the Rams' State Farm opening win over Mahomet-Seymour.

With Hall averaging about 30 points a game at the sophomore level, Miller knew it was only a matter of time before he started contributing on varsity.

"We took a look at him in the summer and in November," Miller said. "He just started playing better than we expected."

Motivation:

It didn't take much to overhear Timothy Christian coach Jack LeGrand's admonition to his players in the third quarter of the Trojans' game against Addison Trail in the final round of pool play at the Glenbard West Holiday Classic.

"At least you could hustle to the bench!" LeGrand exclaimed after he called a timeout.

LeGrand is not known as a fiery vocal type in game situations, but a kick in the pants once in awhile can work wonders. His Trojans did what they needed to do -- defend the lane, block out and grab rebounds.

"He's really just trying to get us really going," senior forward Matt Morrison said after the game. "He just means the best for us. He knows we can do better."

Timothy Christian did, and responded with a 53-52 victory over an Addison Trail team much improved over recent years.

Going forward:

Immaculate Conception coach Darren Howard said he and Westmont coach Craig Etheridge had discussed forming a boys holiday tournament years ago, and it finally came true, with success, over the last week of December.

"We were both extremely happy with the way the tournament went the first year," Howard said after the Knights beat Etheridge's Sentinels in the championship game. Other teams included St. Edward, Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Latin, Northside Prep and Morgan Park Academy.

"When you do something like this the first year there's so many questions, as far as, is it going to be competitive, are people going to come, so on and so forth," Howard said.

"The crowds were good for (IC's) home games and his home games, not so great for the other stuff. So there's things we have to do to build the tournament, but I think both of us (IC and Westmont) getting to the finals in the first year kind of solidifies what we wanted out of this tournament.

"Moving forward we want to do some things as far as sponsorship, getting a little bit more involvement from the press, things like that," Howard said. "But we're real happy with what we had so far, and every team said they want to come back. So we think we're doing the right thing."

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