Naperville North's boys basketball team came to Naperville Central on Tuesday fully expecting another intensely emotional cross-town game.
Then the Huskies spent an hour and a half sucking all the energy out of the gym.
They controlled the action virtually from wire-to-wire and claimed sole possession of first place in the DuPage Valley Conference with a 56-40 victory over the Redhawks.
Naperville North (22-2) is 13-1 in the DVC, just ahead of Wheaton Warrenville South (22-5, 13-2) after its Tuesday loss at Metea Valley. The Huskies play Waubonsie Valley on Friday before taking on WW South next Wednesday with at least a share of the conference title on the line.
The Huskies also may have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A Glenbard East sectional with Tuesday's win. They'll find out for sure when the IHSA announces the seeds on Thursday.
"We came here just to play hard and play our game," said Huskies senior Jack Hill. "If we play hard and together we'll find a way to win."
The lead changed hands twice in the opening three minutes, but Naperville North quickly seized a double-digit lead with a 9-0 run. Naperville Central (18-8, 9-5) stayed as close as 6 points away in the second quarter, but the Huskies never allowed the Redhawks to hit them with a run.
The Redhawks were forced to play without 6-foot-8 senior center Ben Wolf, who was home sick Tuesday.
"When you find out your big man isn't going to play at 6 a.m. against your archrivals on senior night, it's tough to do," said Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer. "We had kids playing positions that they're not used to playing."
Tom Welch scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead Naperville North. Hill scored 10 points and Chris Johnson had 7 points in his second game back from injury.
"Last time we played them we didn't play our best and that's why the game was close," Welch said. "Even though we beat them last time, we wanted to show them how good we really were and make a statement."
Tyler O'Brien knocked down five 3-pointers to pace Naperville Central with 17 points in the sixth game this season Naperville North held an opponent to 40 or fewer points.
"Our defense has been the key this year," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "The way we're playing defense is really awesome right now."
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