Naperville North ends the suspense early against Lake Park
Back on Dec. 15 the Lake Park boys basketball team took Naperville North to overtime, eventually losing 55-48 in a thriller.
The two teams met again Friday, this time at Lake Park, and there was no way the Huskies were up for a repeat.
So they put any thoughts of that to rest right out of the locker room, crafting a 15-0 run to start the game that they sustained the rest of the way en route to a 58-38 DuPage Valley Conference victory.
In the first meeting the Huskies (18-2, 10-1) went 1 for 18 from 3-point range, but this night they were substantially better, hitting 6 of 16, including two from senior guard Jack Hill and another from senior guard Jared McIntyre in that game-starting spurt.
In fact by the time Hill hit his second of the game, from the right corner, only 2 minutes, 30 seconds had come off the clock. Lake Park (5-14, 3-6) got its first basket with 4:41 left in the period, on a layup by senior guard John Pacione.
"We remember how we played the last time," Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. "We were a little lackadaisical, and they are a physical, very good team, very defensive-minded, and we just told them, every cut you have to make, you have to make hard, every time you get the ball, you've got to do something with it, you can't fool around in the post. I think that was our mindset from the get-go."
By the time the first quarter had ended, the Huskies were firmly in control at 23-8, but that didn't mean the Lancers rolled over. They did cut the deficit to 30-19 with a minute left in the second quarter on a 3 from junior forward Max Ellenbecker and a layup from junior Thomas Zakic.
But as it has done most of this season, Naperville North kicked things into a higher gear. Coming out of halftime, the Hill and McIntyre crafted an 8-2 run all by themselves, including one 3-pointer apiece. McIntyre's was especially noteworthy because he hit his head late in first half on a contested shot but suffered no ill effects.
"We had a sour taste in our mouth from the last time we played them, so we were kind of, I guess, ticked off," Hill said. "They are a very physical team and we practiced all week to come out strong to get the game started."
Hill led all scorers with 17, while McIntyre had 9. Junior forward Tom Welch chipped in 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Across the court it might have seemed like a hard-luck night for the Lancers and coach Josh Virostko, but he didn't see it that way.
"I was proud of our guys -- they didn't quit," Virostko said. "We didn't come out ready to play, and we knew they would. They came out hot, and we didn't respond real well. But then we regrouped and made some buckets, and I thought the last three quarters we played them even."
Pacione, who missed all last season due to injury, led the Lancers with 8 points, while senior Diamante Smith added 7 points and 5 rebounds.