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Some new things worked quite well for Naperville North Tuesday night, but so did a few returners, namely junior forward Kayla Sharples.
With Sharples tough on both ends of the floor, the Jason Dycus era as the new Huskies coach got off to a nice start with a 66-58 defeat of visiting Metea Valley in the season opener for both schools. Sharples had a team-high 18 points in three quarters of play and took the rest of the evening off after the Huskies led 53-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of the girls," Dycus said. "I think it's a great way to open our season. All the credit goes to the girls and their hard work in the last two weeks."
Even with a new coach and a new offense, Naperville North looked ready to go from the get-go, jumping ahead 12-4 behind 6 points from Sharples and second-chance baskets from both Cece Pope and Katie Cores.
The Mustangs struggled to slow the Huskies attack, as the hosts led 19-12 after one quarter, 37-26 at the half and led by as many as 24 points in the final quarter before Metea Valley closed out the game with a 22-6 run that made the final score somewhat deceiving.
"We didn't really implement anything that we've worked on during the last two weeks offensively or defensively," Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas said. "We're definitely a young team, experience-wise. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and move forward."
For Naperville North's top player, a new motion offense proved to be a great fit in the opener. It didn't hurt that Pope and Morganne Freeman combined for 18 rebounds -- 6 on the offensive end -- to help the hosts control the first three quarters of play.
"We rely on each other, and the motion offense, I definitely like it," said Sharples, who had 5 steals and a trio of assists to go with her scoring. "We wanted everyone to contribute and we had a lot of teamwork."
Sophomore point guard Laurel Pereira was solid before fouling out late and Cores was a force inside with 15 points, while Pope had 9 points and 10 boards for the Huskies.
Metea Valley was led by Jenny Voytell, who tallied 8 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, while Kellee Clay added 10 points and guard Lisa Logan turned in a strong effort with 8 points and 4 steals.