Junior and varsity newcomer Nick Jordan was a shining example of the Wheaton North boys basketball team's comeback mentality Friday against Naperville North.
During a pass for a layup in the third quarter, Jordan's shoe came off. With 2:21 left in the fourth quarter, Jordan temporarily was sidelined after his nose was cut and bled while being fouled.
When Jordan returned less than a minute later, he sank two more free throws to finish with 22 points and lead the Falcons' to a 57-53 DuPage Valley Conference home victory after falling behind 12-0 at the start.
"I've scored three, four points a game (this season), so this was huge for me," Jordan said. "We just talked about staying together as a team. Through that adversity, we just went out there, we kept going, we put that (12-0 deficit) behind us and we just kept moving with the game."
The Falcons (3-1, 2-0) trailed until Jordan's three-point play -- his third of the night -- gave them a 51-49 lead with 3:42 left.
The Huskies (3-3, 0-2) tied the game at 51 on two free throws by Baylor Griffin with 3:14 to go, but Wheaton North scored the next six points.
The Falcons' comeback was even sweeter because they were minus senior Andrew Slivinski, their leading scorer at more than 20 points a game, who was sidelined by an ankle injury suffered during Wednesday's 52-43 loss at Stagg. Jordan started in Slivinski's place.
"(Our players) just dug in. We had a lot of guys play a lot of minutes. We just grinded it out possession after possession," Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann said.
"Nick Jordan was an animal tonight. We talked to him about his role was going to expand with Slivinski out. He's always been an aggressive, great defender and we wanted him to be more aggressive offensively because we know he can do it. He's ready to be a good varsity player. He came up huge for us."
The Falcons' Bryan Knoedler and Jake Heggeland also scored in double figures. Naperville North also had three players in double figures -- Jelani McClain, Jayson Winick and Anthony Rehayem.
The Huskies led 46-38 entering the fourth quarter but then made just 1 of 13 shots and 3 of 6 free throws with two missed 1-and-1s before an uncontested layup in the final seconds.
"I think we lost the continuous movement of the ball and kind of started going 1-on-1 a little too much," Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. "We just didn't shoot the ball in the fourth quarter very well, and we missed a bunch of free throws. To their credit they played very well. They never gave up."
Jordan made 12 of 13 free throws as the Falcons were 21 of 28 as a team. Because of his cut nose, teammate John Coolidge replaced him on the free-throw line and made 1 of 2 attempts, putting the Falcons ahead for good at 52-51.
After Jordan's free throws he missed two shots but the Falcons maintained possession on a jump ball. On the inbounds pass Matt Biegalski found Knoedler for an easy layup.
"Coming into varsity as a junior, you're skeptical about taking it to the hoop. You're thinking get it to your seniors who have played before, but coach told me to be aggressive," Jordan said. "I knew I had to step up with Slivinski out. I took it to the hole and stuff happened."
Naperville North took the 12-0 lead behind five of its 17 steals. The Falcons got the game into a half-court tempo and closed to within two points twice in the second quarter and trailed 31-25 at halftime.
"The only way we can score is through our press," Powers said. "We've got to get a little bit better at scoring in our offensive sets. We'll get better."
The Falcons had 8 turnovers on their first nine possessions and 15 at the half. They had 8 the entire second half.
"We knew with that many mistakes and only being down six (at halftime), we could still win the game," Jordan said. "We learned that through thick and thin we can stay together as a team."