Naperville North held off a late surge from West Chicago in a DuPage Valley Conference basketball contest Friday night at West Chicago, winning 59-51.
It was the second quarter that sealed the Wildcats' fate as Naperville North outscored its DVC rivals 17-6. Even though West Chicago outscored Naperville North 34-29 the rest of the game, the dye had been cast.
"The second group that came in off the bench in the second quarter gave us some energy," said Naperville North coach Jeff Powers. "J.P. Riley came off the bench and hit some 3-pointers."
Naperville North senior Derek Westman said the Huskies were playing at West Chicago's pace in the first quarter.
"The difference came when we started pushing the ball up the court," Westman said.
"We're better when we're pushing the ball and working in transition and getting easy layups and it worked to our advantage in the second quarter," added Naperville North senior Bryan LoLordo.
Actually, Riley's first 3-pointer came at the end of the first quarter to give the Huskies (6-2, 3-0) a 13-11 lead. Then he hit two key 3-pointers in the second quarter to increase the lead.
"It was offensive rebounds that made the difference," said Wildcats coach Bill Recchia.
West Chicago's John Konchar did the best he could trying to carry the Wildcats on his back to the comeback in the final period, scoring 9 of his 18 points. When Konchar couldn't get free for a shot, he created open shots for teammates Dean Pauley and Mike Zajac, who drained three 3-pointers in the last few minutes of the game. However, 55-50 was as close as West Chicago (2-6, 0-3) could get.
"John's a great player," Powers said. "I was afraid we were going to give the game away at the end after working so hard to get the lead."
Westman felt it was the Huskies fouling the Wildcats players that almost gave the game away.
"We kept fouling their players," Westman said, "and of course the clock was stopped and they were gaining on us."
"We got careless on some things," LoLordo said. "We tried to force some things and need to tighten those things up and get better."
"I'm so proud of our players," Recchia said. "They never quit. We've been in every game we've played this year except one. We're real close. We just need to put together four solid quarters."
However, along with the three 3-pointers in the final period, West Chicago also missed 7 of 13 free throws down the stretch, in comparison to Naperville North's free-throw shooting of 5 of 8 in the final quarter.
"We're 6 and 2 and do a lot of good things," Powers said, "we just need some consistency in our play."
"We're playing real well right now," LoLordo said. "We just need to keep it going."