For a young boys basketball team a little short on practices, Naperville North made for a rough opponent Friday night.
Lake Park came to Naperville for a DuPage Valley Conference battle and ran into a Huskies team that is coming together well, a team that played superb defense in knocking off the Lancers 51-32.
The Huskies (8-6, 2-2) led a tight contest 25-19 at the half and then really put the clamps on the Lancers, outscoring the visitors 10-4 in the third quarter and also holding them to single digits in the final quarter while pulling away at the free-throw line.
"We were looking to come out strong. They're a new team in the conference and we wanted to come out and make a statement," said Naperville North senior Anthony Rehayem, who had 12 points, including six free throws in the fourth quarter. "We're definitely a better team now in these last couple of games."
Rehayem had a pair of steals and along with Jayson Winick and Baylor Griffin helped the hosts take away the Lancers' passing lanes.
"We've been working on help-side defense," Rehayem added. "It was something we hadn't been doing too well. That and we're really coming together as a team."
Lake Park coach Josh Virostko was impressed with the Huskies' tough defense and added that his team's inexperience played a role as well in his team falling to 11-7 overall and 1-3 in the DVC.
"I think Naperville North did a nice job of mixing things up and making us think and play a cognizant game," he said. "I think our youth showed a lot. The only thing I can say in our kids' defense is we've only had six practices in the last 30 days.
"We had two holiday tournaments, the ice thing, and then we gave them time off. It showed. It's not an excuse. It just showed. We need to do a lot of work and Naperville North really exploited it."
Sophomore Jelani McClain Jr. continues to improve his game, leading the attack with 15 points. But McClain knows it's the Huskies' defense that has really picked up of late.
"In the third quarter we played really well on defense," McClain said. "The last couple of games we hadn't played real well in the third and fourth quarters and we wanted to improve on that."
Sean Moore paced Lake Park with 17 points before fouling out with 2:47 left to play, but the Lancers really had to work hard on just about every possession on Friday.
"They're a quality team. We're a young team and tonight we just showed that we haven't practiced a lot," Virostko said.