Glenbard North rallies to beat Addison Trail
The assignment was no easy task, but Glenbard North senior Josh Applewhite was well-prepared and came through with a grade A performance.
The Panthers defender was challenged by chasing and guarding Addison Trail's Jacob Daniels all night long Monday, and was tasked with stopping the Blazer shooter in the waning seconds with his team ahead 57-55.
Applewhite contested the shot perfectly, didn't foul Daniels, and when the shot bounded off the rim his team left the floor with an impressive win over an Addison Trail team that had won five of its first six games.
"I wanted him to have the ball because I knew he was going to shoot a 3," said Applewhite, who scored 13 points and played tough defense even though Daniels did manage to knock down five 3s in the game. "That was all he really wanted. I just knew not to jump or it would be a foul so I just stood my ground."
The back-and-forth contest saw several players on both sides take turns grabbing the spotlight, but it was Panthers guard Donald Davis who scored what proved to be the game-winner on a fastbreak drive late after Blazers freshman Luke Smith had tied the game at 55-55 with a pair of free throws.
Addison Trail closed out the third quarter with a 19-5 run powered by 11 points from Nathan Johnson that gave the visitors a 44-38 lead. But the Panthers, who trailed 53-47 following a layup by Smith with 4:43 left, picked up their defensive pressure and their pace on offense and pulled out the tight victory.
"They're a really good team. They are well-coached, they play hard and they have a really good half-court offense," Panthers coach Kevin Tonn said after his team squeaked out the win.
"Here's the thing I keep telling our guys, we play really good defense and we've got to hang our hat on that, but we've got to find a way to put the ball into the basket in the half-court offense, and we struggled with that tonight. But we did a nice job of making it an ugly basketball game at the end and we came out with a win."
Davis scored 13 points in the second half to pace the Panthers (5-3) with 15 points, while Greg Strong added 12 off the bench.
For the Blazers, four players scored in double digits paced by Daniels with 15 and Johnson with 14.
"The team was just getting me open and they were finding me for easy buckets," Johnson said of his big third quarter. "It's really helpful to have a bunch of shooters around because they start to bite on the jumper and I'm wide open in the paint for the layup."
Despite the tough loss, Johnson has no complaints with how this season stacks up with the Blazers' last one.
"I'm really happy with the team," he said. "From last season when we were winless to now, winning. It's a big difference a and a lot of fun. This team is tough."