The intensity was there on both sides all night long. Luckily for Glenbard East, JaRon Hall and his "instant offense" came out big time in the second half with the game on the line.
Saturday's key DuPage Valley Conference contest saw host Naperville North (7-3, 3-1) jump out to a 17-9 lead after one quarter and never trail through three quarters before Hall's huge second half eventually powered the Rams to a 63-57 victory.
Hall had 5 points at the half before exploding for 19 second-half points to lead all scorers with 24 and help the Rams stay atop the DVC at 4-0 while handing the Huskies their first conference loss.
"He can just flat-out score," Glenbard East coach Scott Miller said of Hall, who sank four 3s and also burned Naperville North with a timely conventional three-point play late. "He's like (former NBA player) Vinnie Johnson. He can just score in bunches. That's what he does."
While Hall and point guard Tahron Harvey were combining for 43 points and six of the Rams' nine 3s on the night, Naperville North used a balanced attack and some solid defense to battle down to the wire. Nine players scored for the Huskies, with Derek Westman leading the way with 12 points.
"I was so proud of my boys," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers, whose team knocked off York on Friday. "Our kids showed a lot this weekend. Every day we're getting better."
Naperville North freshman Jelani McClain scored all six of his points in the first quarter, and JP Riley sank a late 3 off a feed from Bryan LoLordo as the home team led by eight after one quarter.
The Rams trailed 27-23 at the half but Hall tallied 10 points in the third quarter which ended in a 45-45 tie, then Hall scored nine more in the final quarter, including a 3 early that made it 48-45 and gave the Rams their first lead of the night.
"We just didn't give up," Hall said. "We were kind of playing like mediocre in the first half, but we kept pushing. In the second half I was feeling it and I had some good looks."
The Rams built a 54-49 lead following a 3 by Marvin Grant-Clark, but the Huskies drew even on a putback by LoLordo and a jumper from beyond the arc by Anthony Rehayem.
Naperville North then went on to take a 57-54 lead with 2:46 left to play on a driving basket by Jayson Winick. Glenbard East, however, used a 9-0 to close out the game sparked by three-point plays from Harvey and Hall.
Even with Saturday's defeat, Powers is proud of his team's fight so far this season.
"We had 11 seniors last year and they're gone," he said. "To be 7-3 right now I should be doing jumping jacks and cartwheels."
Rafee Mahmud had a game-high 9 rebounds to go with 5 points and a blocked shot, while LoLordo and Rehayem each finished with 10 points as the Huskies had three players score in double figures.
The Rams also had a trio of players reach double figures as Grant-Clark tallied 11 and combined with Hall and Harvey to score 54 of the Rams' 63 points.