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."