Wheaton North takes close game from Neuqua Valley
Talk all the schemes and strategy you want, but the bottom line was pretty basic to Wheaton North boys basketball coach Dave Brackmann.
"I was pleased that we got in a close game and we won it, to be honest," Brackmann said after nicking DuPage Valley Conference foe Neuqua Valley 55-49 on Tuesday in Wheaton.
"We've played a lot of really good teams we've had chances to beat. Pretty much we've been in every game. This game kind of had a similar feeling to some of those, but we were able to come out on top."
Wheaton North (2-5, 1-2) saw a 40-33 third-quarter lead dissolve into a 46-42 deficit with 4:02 to play after Noah Herdman swished a 3 for Neuqua (2-6, 1-3).
Wheaton North's Deng Reng scored on a reverse layup, on another inside basket off Josh Sorenson's assist, and on two free throws to recapture a 48-46 Falcons lead with two minutes left.
It became a free-throw contest from there and Jacob Schauer, Garrett Horner and Sorenson made 7 of 9 down the stretch.
"Find me a way to win," Brackmann said of the turning point. "It's not easy when you're playing good teams night in and night out. I know Neuqua's record isn't great and our record isn't great, but those are two good teams playing there."
Sorenson paced the Falcons with 16 points, 5 blocks and 5 rebounds; Reng had 14 points and 7 rebounds and Brayden Anthony added 10 points.
Neuqua would love to find a couple more wins as well. Still, Wildcats coach Todd Sutton was encouraged by a defense that allowed only six second-half field goals and an offense that committed only two second-half turnovers.
In addition to center Dubem Ogbuefi's 10 points and 4 rebounds, off the bench came big men Stephen Ruiz and Carson Grieman to combine for 6 points and 8 rebounds. Jonathan Tan scored 10 points and absorbed two offensive charges.
"We did some good things, I thought our rebounding was pretty good today," Sutton said. "We executed extremely well on offense, extremely well. I liked the way we played."
At least until that juncture with four minutes left.
"We missed a lot of layups," said Sutton, who called the season "a process."
Wheaton North's Sorenson would agree.
"When we went through the offense we got the right shots," said the 6-foot-7 senior. "Sometimes we dribbled down and just shot the shots. As coach would say, we dribbled down and jacked the shots. That never works. We've got to swing it a few times and then look for the drive or the open 3."