Hopefully practice made St. Charles North's zone defense closer to perfect.
Last we saw the North Stars boys on a basketball court they got pounded by St. Charles East 90-55 on Jan. 18.
"That was like a fluke game," St. Charles North forward Erik Miller said on Tuesday. "Nothing worked for us and they got hot."
Eleven days have passed since a loss which both senior guard Alec Goetz and North Stars coach Tom Poulin said would make the team better. St. Charles North returns to competition Thursday in an Upstate Eight Conference River Division game at Elgin.
One would figure those practices from Jan. 19-29 may have been grueling.
"I'd say (Poulin) drilled us a little harder," Miller said. "What's the word I'm looking for? He wanted practice to be a little more intense, I guess you could say, and we definitely lived up to it. He wanted us to be more precise, that's the word."
Poulin said after the St. Charles East game that running a 2-3 or matchup zone is more difficult than operating a man-to-man defense. Miller said communication between defenders is the key. He also said Poulin strongly communicated his position.
"He definitely got the point across that we can't ever play like that again," said the 6-foot-3 forward, who recently got some new shoes to help him prepare for his spring sport, track, in which he finished fourth in Class 3A high jump last year.
"I think this last week practices have been really good," Miller said. "I think we're definitely taking that loss, taking the positives out of it, especially an ego check. We've got two games this week, against Elgin and Larkin. I think not having a game this week is good for us, got us prepared. I think we'll come back a lot stronger."
Hot hand: Aurora Central Catholic coach Nathan Drye noted this week that guard Sean Harreld is "starting to get into that groove."
Drye got that feeling when the 6-foot senior poured in 44 points in an 86-81 overtime loss to Walther Christian on Jan. 24, the most points a Charger has scored in Drye's 10 seasons as head coach.
Harreld had scored 6 points by halftime. He scored 36 in the third and fourth quarters and 2 in overtime before fouling out on a double-foul call. Harreld made eight 3-point baskets.
A 42-25 halftime deficit enabled Harreld to let fly like his older brother, Ryan, a former All-Area gunner for the Chargers.
"When you're behind you've got to just chuck away," said Drye, never shy about his boys launching 3s. "He got to take some shots he normally wouldn't be able to take."
Aurora Central ran many normal sets for Sean to get his shots, Drye said, and he also made 12 of 14 free throws. But one shot, a 30-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime -- was abnormal.
"It wasn't a runner, he came off a dribble handoff and just squared up and hit it from 30 feet," Drye recalled in amazement. "I've never seen a kid hit a normal shot from that far."
Rough stretch: Batavia, headed to the Quad Cities Shootout on Saturday to face host Rock Island, will have to play without key forward Chasen Peez a little longer.
The 6-foot-6 junior aggravated a back injury in the Bulldogs' Jan. 17 game at Geneva and hasn't played since. Batavia coach Jim Nazos said Peez has a stress reaction and will be out at least three more weeks.
Through the Elgin holiday tournament Peez had scored 11 or more points in 12 of Batavia's 13 games, three times over 20 points. He still leads Batavia in scoring and rebounding, both total numbers and on average.
Batavia hasn't been at .500 since Dec. 6, but since the turn of the new year -- with Peez held below double figures or out of the lineup entirely -- the Bulldogs have gone 1-5.
The good news is that while Peez is temporarily out, 6-foot-6 senior Tucker Knox has scored 15 points in two of the last three games, and reached double figures in three of the last six.
"He's been coming on for the past month," Nazos said.
"We've been having some blips right now taking care of the ball a little bit," the coach said. "When you go through some of these stretches you kind of go back to fundamentals and move on. There's a lot of time left to really do some great things, and I really believe it can happen."