A quarter of the way through the DuPage Valley Conference boys basketball season, and unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South already sits surprisingly alone atop the standings.
But while everyone else begins discussing conference championship potential, the Tigers will hear none of it.
Not even after WW South pulled out another pivotal win with Tuesday's 43-42 road victory over fellow contender Naperville North.
"Neuqua Valley," Tigers coach Mike Healy said, referring to the Tigers' Friday opponent. "Our guys are a very mature group, and that's what we said in there. We just said 'Neuqua Valley', and they all shook their head. They'll be watching film on Neuqua Valley tonight and that's all our concern is."
WW South (8-0, 4-0) led the entire final three quarters and fended off numerous comeback attempts by the Huskies (5-2, 2-1). Naperville North's Tyler Carlson, who scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter, nailed a 3-pointer to bring the Huskies within 43-42 with two seconds left.
After a pair of missed free throws by the Tigers, Naperville North had one last chance to win the game. A half-court heave at the buzzer, however, went far off the mark to end the game.
"Our guards were just gritty," said WW South's Dillon Durrett, who scored a game-high 14 points. "You've got to thank our guards, the Healy brothers (Drew and Jake). (Jake) Ruggles had an amazing game. We just were making shots and outplaying the other team this time around."
Despite a size disadvantage across the board, WW South did a terrific job matching up defensively and on the boards. The Tigers outrebounded the Huskies and limited 6-foot-6 Mitch Lewis and 6-7 Chris Johnson to a combined 12 points and 3 rebounds.
The Tigers opened their biggest lead of 27-19 midway through the third quarter before Naperville North strung together its biggest run of 7 straight points. WW South eventually got its feet settled and ended the quarter with a 31-26 lead.
Ruggles knocked down three 3-pointers while scoring 11 points for WW South. Drew Healy scored 9 points and Chase Stebbins 7 points.
"I think the intensity and toughness of Wheaton Warrenville South outdid us this game," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "We didn't show the intensity we needed to play in a championship game like this. And this was like a championship game."
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