Redemption came in a matter of seconds for Anthony Rehayem, and boy, was it sweet.
After an errant inbounds pass by the Naperville North senior led to a game-tying basket by Glenbard North with 7.5 seconds left Friday night, Rehayem had just enough time left to become the hero. When he drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 49-46 Huskies win, a wild celebration with students and players took place on the court.
It was a much different game from when these two schools opened DuPage Valley Conference play in Carol Stream and the Panthers prevailed in an 84-76 shootout. On Friday the Huskies (10-8, 4-4) slowed down the pace a bit, played tough defense and were in position to win at the end despite letting a 46-42 lead slip away in the final minute.
"Obviously, we didn't have a timeout when we were throwing the ball in," Rehayem said of his costly turnover, which resulted in a steal and layup by the Panthers' Kendall Holbert. "I knew I had to take the five-second call or throw the ball in and what I was trying to do was throw it off the guy's leg. But he jumped and opened his legs and I threw it right between his legs and they got the layup. In my mind I was like I just threw the game away."
But in the final ticks of the clock, fellow Huskies guard Ashton Elston drove up the floor and when the Panthers collapsed on him, he found Rehayem open on the right wing and just before the horn sounded, Rehayem nailed the winning shot.
"Like coach (Jeff Powers) said, Ashton just sees the court great," he said. "Everyone collapsed to the middle and he kicked it out for a 3. Luckily I hit it. We practice 3s a lot in practice, so I was confident going into it and I just got it to go down."
Glenbard North entered the contest 13-4 overall and had gone 6-1 in the first round of DVC play. The Panthers jumped out to a 15-8 lead late in the first quarter, but from that point on the Huskies managed to play to a pace more to their liking, with a patient attack and a stingy defense.
The Huskies led 23-22 at the half before the Panthers took a 35-32 lead into the final quarter, which featured a number of lead changes and the largest margin was four points when Naperville North took that 46-42 lead after Jayson Winink split a pair of free throws.
"In the end you've got to give them credit. They played a good ballgame," Glenbard North coach Joe Larson said. "I thought they did a nice job handling the ball. We pressured them and our guys gave good energy and played with a lot of heart. Overall I want to give Naperville North a lot of credit."
Sophomore Jelani McClain led the Huskies with 15 points, while Rehayem added 12 points and Winick, who hit 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter, finished with 11 points.
"Anthony hitting the big shot, Ashton great pass, Winick big free throws and we had some great defense by (Zach) Tuxhorn and Baylor Griffin down there at the end," Powers said in trying not to overlook any heroes. "And Jelani was outstanding all-around. This is a big win. That's a great team."
Chip Flanigan had 19 points and 3 steals for the Panthers, and Holbert had 11 points and 3 steals. Jeremiah Fleming, who bombed the Huskies with seven 3-pointers the last time the teams played, was held to just two 3-pointers and 8 points.