The Naperville North boys basketball team was happy with its 53-47 win at Glenbard East on Saturday night like any squad would be getting on the bus with a victory against a conference rival on the road.
But it was big-picture time for the Huskies (9-6, 3-2 DuPage Valley Conference) as they swept what they considered a crucial weekend of DVC play for them. It started with a 51-32 win over visiting Lake Park the night before.
"We had two amazing practices on Wednesday and Thursday. We knew we had to win these games with West Aurora next week," said Naperville North junior Baylor Griffin, who finished with 10 points along with 8 rebounds and whose play set the tone for the Huskies in the first quarter.
Yes, Naperville North went from a sub-.500 team in the DVC to back in the league race with this weekend sweep. The Huskies are at West Aurora on Friday.
Naperville North came out of the gate big-time and had a tight grip on the game with a 14-4 lead when Rams coach Scott Miller called a timeout with 3:23 left in the opening period. Before the stoppage in play, the Huskies shot 6 of 8 from the field and Griffin had 8 points and 4 rebounds.
However, the Rams (2-12, 0-5) tightened up defensively the rest of the game. Although they never retook the lead, their effort on defense kept Naperville North from running its offense like it did when it jumped out to the 14-4 advantage.
"Their 3-2 zone gave us a little bit of trouble," Huskies coach Jeff Powers said. "We didn't move the ball side to side and once we did we had some openings."
JaRon Hall scored a game-high 20 points for Glenbard East and his two free throws with 2:44 left until halftime put the Rams to within 4. Naperville North closed out the first half on an 8-2 run to lead 27-19 at intermission.
Hall would play a factor again in the third quarter when his team stayed on the Huskies' heels as his free throw with 4:21 left made it just 32-29 in favor of Naperville North. But Jayson Winick, who led the Huskies with 17 points, sank a 3-pointer and teammate Zach Tuxhorn hit net to put their team up 37-29 at quarter's end.
Naperville North led by double digits for the first four minutes of the final quarter, but Glenbard East whittled that lead down to single digits. Patrick Peterkin, who was next on the Rams' stat sheet with 8 points, and Hall sank back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 53-47 game. But they came with less than 40 seconds left, and Glenbard East ran out of time.
"We had been averaging 60, 61 points going into this game. We got 51, 53 this weekend. We won soundly because our kids put their energy in defense," Powers said.
Chris Gajcak came off the bench for Naperville North to score 8 points, all of which came in the fourth quarter and helped the Huskies keep the Rams at bay.
Glenbard East resumes DVC play Friday at Lake Park. The team is a work in progress with three sophomores and a junior in Saturday's starting lineup.
"I'm proud of our kids. They did not quit. We're young and getting better every week," Miller said.