Naperville North saw the good in Thursday's 45-32 loss to DeKalb in their Naperville North/Benet Holiday Tournament opener.
"I'm happy, though, because the last time we played them we lost by over 20 (51-30 on Nov. 23) and it felt like a blowout," Huskies coach Jacquie Discipio said. "Today was a competitive game. We got better. We made them work for all their points, which was our goal. We were competitive, which was a great way to start the tournament."
The Huskies fell to 4-6 on the season.
"Every loss hurts, but this I feel was a good loss," Discipio said. "We were competitive, we got better, we stuck to our plan, I saw some good stuff. We'll still be ready to go the rest of the tournament."
The Huskies also might have found another go-to player offensively, 5-foot-11 junior Morganne Freeman, who scored 9 points, 7 of them in the first half to keep the game close.
"Morganne played the best game of the season for her so far," Discipio said. "She has great post moves, and I think she's starting to feel comfortable doing them. It's interesting that she played another really good post and she finally felt that competitive edge to bring that out tonight. She did a great job. She really sparked us offensively, especially in the first half because we couldn't find any other way to score."
"I was more confident with my moves and I was taking more shots this game too, and they were just falling," Freeman said of her varsity-best scoring total.
Sophomore Kayla Sharples notched a double-double, scoring 10 points to go with 11 rebounds and 3 steals. Senior guard Zoe Swift overcame early foul trouble to add 8 points.
DeKalb (11-1) took a 17-9 lead after the first quarter, 26-15 at halftime as the Huskies leaned on Freeman.
"We let them score 17 points in the first quarter and we don't want to get down by that much," Freeman said. "We did better the second half. If we would have played the first half like we did the second half we would have won, I think."
"We are good when we are in our transition ball, when we're pushing the ball up," Discipio said. "When we have to set up a half-court set, we seem to struggle when we have set plays. So anytime that slows down, and when we take Zoe out everything's a little bit slower, we have to run half-court sets. So we were having difficulty scoring.
"They're big, though. I think our girls were a little intimidated by that too. They play really good defense, they get in the passing lanes. I think they're known for that."
DeKalb coach Chris Davenport noticed Swift's absence.
"Obviously, when she's off the floor it hurts them, because she's so quick," he said.
The Barbs went up by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter before the Huskies trimmed the margin to 10. They couldn't get any closer, however. Madelyn Johnson, a 6-1 sophomore, led DeKalb with 15 points.