Every team needs a tone-setter.
Mitch Lewis took care of that for Naperville North on Friday.
The senior scored the game's first two buckets as the Huskies tallied the first 9 points of a 41-30 DuPage Valley Conference victory at Naperville Central.
The Redhawks (5-11, 0-6) tried to stem the tide with a couple of timeouts, but 7 first-quarter turnovers were too much to overcome. Naperville North (11-4, 5-2) led wire-to-wire to notch its fifth straight win, holding off the Redhawks when they pulled within 6 points early in the fourth quarter.
"That's kind of our plan every game," Lewis said. "Whether it's Chris (Johnson) or I, we just want to get it down low in the post and get a high percentage shot at the beginning of the game and start it off right."
With 6-foot-8 Redhawks junior center Ben Wolf missing Friday's game because of an illness, 6-6 Lewis, 6-7 Chris Johnson and 6-5 sophomore Tom Welch took advantage inside while combining for 25 of the Huskies' points. Lewis, who led the team with 10 points, pulled down 11 of the trio's 18 rebounds.
"Unfortunately for them, (Wolf) got sick, but we just did what we would have done anyway," said Johnson, who scored 9 points. "We hit Mitch inside and he converted. It was good."
Naperville North burst to a 12-point third-quarter lead, but the Redhawks narrowed the deficit to 31-25 early in the fourth quarter on a basket by Dillon Kane, who came off the bench to score a game-high 11 points. A brief 6-0 run by the Huskies put the margin back out of reach.
"The way we started the game wasn't what we wanted to do," said Redhawks coach Pete Kramer. "But I'm very proud of the kids and the way they battled. It could have been ugly real early and they battled back."
Points were at a premium in the defensive struggle, but Chris Sullivan and Welch scored 6 key points apiece for Naperville North. Noah Swope and Nick Kramer scored the same for the Redhawks.
"Even if we're not hitting we've got to be playing better defense," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "I thought today our defense was just absolutely really, really good."
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