Wheaton Warrenville South's boys basketball team needs to lean on its defense, maybe even more than last season.
No one knows it more than the Tigers themselves, and that focus was clear in Wednesday's 49-21 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Lake Park in Roselle.
"Defense is our main priority," said Tigers junior Jeff Kratz. "We just try to be active with our hands and our feet and keep our energy going. We knew it'd be tough on a Wednesday without many fans in the gym, but we tried to focus on what we do best."
WW South (6-0, 2-0) set the tone early by denying the Lancers (2-4, 1-1) their first points until nearly seven minutes were gone in the first quarter. By that time the Tigers held a 12-2 lead and cruised from there.
Defense was a hallmark of last season's DVC and regional championship team, but that group also showed explosiveness. This season's team may take time to develop an offensive identity, meaning defensive intensity is a must.
That's exactly what the Tigers showed on Wednesday.
"If we don't get a little bit more effort, then it's going to be a long year," said Lancers coach Josh Virostko. "Wheaton South just plays with effort, and we have to look at that as an example. They just played harder."
Lake Park was severely hampered with the continued injury absence of returning starters Diamante Smith and Brady Olenek.
Dan Spejcher, who scored 12 points off the bench, was the only player to make more than one field goal. The Lancers committed 26 turnovers, a few that came right under their basket and resulted in easy points for the Tigers.
Jake Healy scored a game-high 15 points for WW South while Kratz knocked down three 3-pointers and added 14 points off the bench.
"We had good energy and good enthusiasm, especially defensively," said Tigers coach Mike Healy. "We shot atrociously in the first half, but our guys do a great job of not carrying over the offense to the defense. They're ready to go and make a play."
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