Naperville North's Derek Westman might not be known for his ability to block shots, but the senior forward made an exception against Glenbard North.
His block on Ryan Storto's layup with 16.5 seconds left was the key defensive stop the Huskies needed in securing a 65-61 victory over the visiting Panthers in DuPage Valley Conference action on Friday.
"I just thought, 'What the heck, I might as well go for it,'" Westman said of the block. "I was just as surprised as my teammates that I got that."
Naperville North (13-6, 4-3) played catchup for the better part of three quarters.
Glenbard North (7-8, 3-4) controlled the tempo for the first eight minutes as the Panthers jumped out to a 25-15 lead. Justin Jackson and Chavares Flanigan combined for 4 steals in the first quarter that all led to fastbreak layups.
The lead got has high as 13 when a rebound basket by Jackson, which also came off a steal at the other end of the court, put the Panthers up 32-19 midway through the second quarter.
"I thought we could press them a little bit and I was wrong," Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. "They were just too fast for us. We got out of the press and got back to playing defense."
Bryan LoLordo scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the first half to help keep the Huskies in the game.
"Bryan (LoLordo) was the player of the game," Westman said. "He's the reason we were in it and had a chance to win."
Down 48-38 with two minutes left in the third quarter, Naperville North clawed its way back on the strength of an 8-0 run that was ignited by a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from Jayson Winick.
Westman's layup and subsequent free throw, along with Anthony Reyahem's rebound basket with 45 seconds left, trimmed the Glenbard North lead to 48-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Huskies took their first lead since the first quarter on a pair of free throws by Reyahem that made the score 54-52. The lead seesawed back and forth as the Panthers took their final lead of the night at 61-58 with 2:22 to go after Flanigan and Kendal Holbert both went 2 of 2 at the free-throw line.
Westman followed with a 3-pointer on the right side of the arc with 2:02 left that tied the game 61-61.
On the next offensive possession Westman drew a foul while driving to the hoop and knocked down both free throws to give his team the lead for good at 63-61.
LoLordo was fouled by Glenbard North on a full-court press with 34.1 seconds left and split the free throws.
Westman's block, followed by LoLordo splitting a final pair of free throws, sealed the win.
"We were getting a lot of drives to the basket off their press early in the game," Glenbard North coach Joe Larson said. "(Naperville North) packed it in more in the second half. But we still had plenty of opportunities down the stretch."