Naperville North's boys basketball team does not take DuPage Valley Conference games for granted.
The league leaders came off a decisive DVC win Friday over Glenbard North and notched another Saturday, beating host Neuqua Valley 75-54 in south Naperville.
"We know that the DVC's an extremely competitive conference," said 6-foot-7 senior Chris Johnson, who made an early statement with 10 of his 14 points and 6 of his 9 rebounds in the first quarter.
"We know Wheaton (Warrenville) South only has one loss, I think (Naperville) Central only has one loss, so we've just got to keep it going, try to win out," he said.
Naperville North (13-1, 5-0) sprinted to a 17-3 lead in the game's first five minutes. Johnson grabbed 5 offensive boards in the first quarter and the Huskies kept Neuqua busy on the perimeter as well with guard Jack Hill and Kevin Lang. Hill hit a pair of 3s in the first quarter and finished with 6 of them, scoring a game-high 22 points.
"We wanted to really do a good job in the post, really wanted to front them and help on lob," said Neuqua coach Todd Sutton.
"To start out the game they got it in the post every time they wanted and they did everything they wanted," Sutton said. "So Plan A kind of did not work. And then we started to play a little better post defense -- and then the 3-point barrage hit."
Neuqua Valley (5-9, 1-5) pulled within 21-13 after one quarter behind Ryan Lake, Noah Herdman and Ryan Kelsen, but Naperville North extended the lead to 36-21 by halftime.
Fresh from the locker room, Hill nailed three straight 3s and Ryan Laurenzo added a putback to establish a 47-21 Huskies lead.
"They've practiced very hard, they've put in a lot of hours shooting the ball and you can see our shooting's getting better and better every week," said Naperville North coach Jeff Powers. "And then with weapons like Tommy (Welch, 6-6 junior) and Chris that could post up, we're awful difficult. And Jack's been hitting his 3 now. That gives us a lot of good things."
Good enough that despite Kelsen's 15 second-half points, 17 for the game off Neuqua's bench, Powers started subbing with 3 minutes left in the third quarter, up 51-28. All 12 Huskies who played scored.
"I think what we need to do," Kelsen said, "is come together closer as a team and don't take every practice for granted, give it our all in every practice and run through our offenses."