Naperville North established enough cushion Saturday to withstand Neuqua Valley's improving offense.
Up 23-11 after one quarter, the Huskies boys basketball team saw its lead cut to 2 early in the fourth before extending it again for a 72-63 DuPage Valley Conference win in Naperville.
"Maybe got a little tired," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "Even though we play a lot of kids, our kids are playing awful hard, and I think maybe we got a little tired, a little out of rhythm. Once we caught our focus back I think we were all right."
Naperville North (10-4, 4-2) went 10 deep and all but one player scored. Mitch Lewis and Tyler Carlson came out hot, combining for 15 first-quarter points as the up-tempo Huskies hit 3s and owned the lane with the 6-foot-6 Lewis.
Overall Naperville North shot 53 percent from the floor, made 8 of 16 3-point baskets and committed a measly 5 turnovers. However, Neuqua Valley (8-6, 3-3) made 52 percent of its shots to enable a rally.
"Once we woke up we were fine," said Neuqua guard Blaise Meredith, who scored 17 points. "After the first quarter it was 23-11, so we can't have those type of first quarters, we've got to start off better."
Off the bench Tom Welch, Winston Elston and Tabo Tarun pushed the Huskies' lead to 32-14 before Neuqua closed the half on a 12-2 run.
"We were up 18 and when they made that run it just killed us," said Elston, who scored 10 of the Huskies' 30 bench points. "But then we went into the locker room and regrouped and did better, came out firing."
Neuqua fired right back, a balanced effort that included center Alex Filo and guard Noah Herdman, who scored 15 and 19 points, respectively, to bring the Wildcats within 45-41 after three quarters.
The 6-8 Filo scored on a putback and off a Meredith inbounds pass to cut Naperville North's lead to 47-45 with 7:07 left to play.
Tarun answered with a pair of 3s on consecutive trips downcourt to spread the margin back to 6, then Lewis scored 9 of his 19 points to reassume control for the home team.
"Everybody has a role on the team, everybody knows their role, which is really nice because when they come in we know what we have to do off the bench," said Tarun, a marksman with 9 key points.
While Naperville North kept pace with the DVC leaders -- "We're still in the fight," Powers said -- Neuqua showed development on at least one half of the court.
"We shot the ball better, we're executing better, I think we're sharing the ball better and some guys are getting assists, which we weren't getting earlier in the year," said Wildcats coach Todd Sutton. "So offensively, much better. Defensively, we've got a lot of work to do."