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It's the simplest of notions, but it's got St. Charles North to a 5-2 start, 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.
"We're playing together," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin.
"The guys really believe in the concept of team and have bought into that concept. I haven't had to sell them on anything, that's the type of people they are, they just want to win. No matter who scores, they just want to win, and they're playing together on both ends (offense and defense)."
Heading into Friday's contest against UEC River favorite Larkin, St. Charles North offers a backcourt of combo-guards Alec Goetz and Jake Ludwig who each earned all-tournament honors at St. Charles East, where the runner-up North Stars took their only loss to St. Joseph. Ludwig made five 3-pointers and scored 28 points in that game. The junior, making 59 percent of his 3-point shots thus far, is averaging 21 points after coming off the bench last season.
"He's stepped up into a leadership role both by his actions and vocally," Poulin said. "He's done a real good job of mixing it up. He can hit the 3, he's got range, and he can also attack the basket. He draws contact real well, gets himself to the line and also finishes with contact, too. He's done it multiple ways."
The duo of Ludwig and Goetz, swingman Jack Callaghan, forward Erik Miller and a 10-deep core will be challenged by Larkin's Kendale McCullum, Derrick Streety, 6-foot-6 freshman Christian Negron and the rest of the Royals.
"We're looking at the film trying to find where the weaknesses are, and we haven't found them," Poulin said.
So far, North Stars fans have found this team easy on the eyes.
"People come up to me and tell me how fun it is to watch them play," Poulin said.
Daily Herald veteran John Lemon hadn't recalled a Geneva Viking player reaching 41 points -- as Nate Navigato did Saturday against Bloomington -- since Brandon D'Amico hit that mark in an 88-80 win over Glenbard South in 2006.
Geneva coach Phil Ralston hadn't seen anything like it in a while himself.
"I saw (former East Aurora star Ryan) Boatright drop 55 on St. Charles North," the coach said. "That was pretty impressive. But Nate scoring 33 in 11 minutes possibly was more impressive than that."
Trailing in the third quarter, Ralston called time at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois and ordered a return to the basics -- get the ball inside.
First, though, Navigato canned a 3-pointer. The next time downcourt he made a pair of free throws, Ralston said.
"From then on, it was him," the coach said.
The 6-foot-7 junior swingman went 17 of 17 from the foul line in the last 11 minutes, and finished the game making 10 of 12 shots from the floor.
"It's been a fun season so far," Ralston said, "but we've got a long way in this season to go. The thing about the basketball season is it's never a sprint, it's always a marathon."
Geneva (6-1, 1-0 UEC River) turns now to St. Charles East. It'll need all hands on deck as Chris Parrilli, Justin Durante and Pace Temple try to slow down the Saints' backcourt of Dom Adduci and Cole Gentry.
"I'm not sure we have what it would take to wear a guy like Adduci down," Ralston said. "I'm not worried just about Adduci, I'm worried about their entire team. They've got guys that can flat out shoot."
St. Charles East (2-4, 0-2 UEC River) does have guys who can shoot. Twice the Saints have landed four players in double-figure scoring and in last week's loss to St. Charles North Adduci, Gentry and forward A.J. Washington each scored at least 11 points. Jake Asquini is a 3-ball waiting to happen.
"We're just trying to find our way right now," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "We've had a very tough schedule and I think we've been challenged in every game early in this season. We're just trying to all get on the same page -- working on defense, working on rebounding, early season stuff."
Adduci is in late-season form, points-wise. Scoring a career-high 33 on Dec. 5 at Larkin, the senior guard already has games of 25, 28, 26 and 29 points. He's averaging 27 points.
Other highlights in the early going for the Saints are 6-foot-4 sophomore guard James McQuillan and junior forward Mick Vyzral, who averaged 12 points at St. Charles East's Ron Johnson Tournament. But St. Charles East is sill looking to get 6-7 senior Dave Mason back from a foot injury; Gentry has just played the last two games after his own injury problems.
"It's early, we've only played six games so far, and none have been at full strength," Woods said.