The Naperville North boys basketball team managed just 8 points during the second quarter of Tuesday night's game against Neuqua Valley in the Hoops for Healing Tournament at Naperville North.
The Wildcats (1-1) led 22-21 at halftime, and something had to change if the Huskies wanted a shot at this game.
It did. With the help of three 3-point baskets during the third quarter, Naperville North (1-1) improved its offensive lot, leading 36-32 after 24 minutes and going on to win 54-48.
"I told them they were too bottled up and they needed to spread the floor," said Naperville North coach Jeff Powers of his team going into the third quarter. "We were 7 of 10 on 3-point baskets (for the game) and were driving the lane to make shots. I thought Jayson (Winick), Jelani (McClain) and Anthony Rehayem did a good job of penetrating and each kicked out to the open person."
Rehayem scored 9 of his team-high 16 points in the third quarter, and Winick also had 16.
A dunk on a putback by Elijah Robertson, which ignited the crowd, and a free throw by him about 25 seconds later gave Neuqua its second 7-point lead of the game with 4:50 left in the third.
Then came the 3s for the Huskies.
Michael Laurenzo, who was third on his team's scoresheet with 9 points, hit one with 3:27 remaining. About 30 seconds later Winick got his and the Huskies were within 30-29.
Neuqua called a timeout to try and cool things off, and Josh Piotrowski's basket put the Wildcats up 32-29.
Then in the final two minutes, Rehayem hit a 3, converted a steal into a layup to give his team a 34-32 advantage and then hit another bucket to give the Huskies the 36-32 lead at the end of the quarter.
Neuqua pulled to within 3 points of the Huskies three times in the final quarter, but the Huskies hit 6 of 8 free throws in the final stretch to dry the ink on this one.
"We just tried to execute our plays better and turn up the defensive intensity," McClain said.
Robertson led Neuqua with 12 points, Piotrowski had 11 and Demond George 9.
"Naperville North forced turnovers. We need to do a little better job of taking care of the basketball," said Neuqua assistant coach Mike O'Toole. "We expected it to be a close game. Naperville North is a good defensive team."
The tournament, sponsored by Naperville North and Oswego, continues Wednesday at Oswego with the Wildcats taking on Benet at 4 p.m. followed by Oswego East and Naperville North at 5:30.