There has been a whole lot of winning and a whole lot of fun this season for Naperville North on the Huskies' home floor.
Tuesday was more of the same. The Huskies stayed perfect in their gym with a 69-50 defeat of a Hinsdale Central team that was the Huskies' first victim back in November. Naperville North reached 25 wins for the second straight season and advances to Friday's Class 4A regional final against Geneva for one more contest in its own gym.
"I think we're undefeated so far this season at home and we really want to finish that out," said Huskies center Chris Johnson, who had 21 points and 9 rebounds in the win over the Red Devils (10-18). "It's such a great feeling to be a part of a winning team. We're all brothers off the court."
The 25-2 DuPage Valley Conference champs flexed their muscle inside with their talented towers of Johnson and the 6-foot-6 Tom Welch. The two combined for 24 points in the first half and 44 points for the night.
"We knew we had some advantage inside," said Johnson, a 6-7 senior. "We worked hard in practice on punching it inside. We just try and go up strong and finish. We knew we had to come out as the aggressors and that really would determine the rest of the game."
Welch opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and then added a driving basket for a 5-0 lead less than a minute into the contest. Welch finished with a game-high 23 points.
"Yeah, fortunately we have Tommy and Chris and they were very good today," Huskies coach Jeff Powers said. "Tommy hit a couple jumpers outside to loosen them up. I thought the play of Jared McIntrye was really special today, and Chris was a load underneath."
The Huskies built an 18-6 lead six minutes into the game and led 33-22 at the half and 51-34 after three quarters. The only drawback for the top seed was an off night at the free-throw line, where the home team made 16 of 35 attempts.
"We have to shoot free throws a little better, but other than thought I feel we had a pretty good game," Powers said. "I thought our defense was pretty good too. In the first half our defense was really solid."
Welch is well aware of the back-to-back 25-win campaigns for the Huskies and the 10-game winning streak headed into the regional finals, but he also knows those numbers don't mean much this time of the year.
"We're not really worried about records anymore," the junior said. "It's one and done, so it's game by game. But if we can get another regional title, and get it at home, we'll celebrate that."
Trevor Hamilton paced Hinsdale Central with 12 points, while Justin Bradshaw scored 10 and Matt Guglielmo connected on a trio of 3-pointers to score 9.