2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/9/2018 10:42 PM

Neuqua Valley can’t contain Naperville North shooters

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By Chris Traczek
Daily Herald Correspondent

It stands to reason that a good basketball team would have good shooters, but when those shooters exceed their lofty standards, the opposition is put in an unenviable position.

That was the case Friday night at Naperville North. The Huskies, who were celebrating senior night, made an unbelievable 9 of 11 3-point attempts and shot 60 percent overall from the field in posting a 63-48 DuPage Valley Conference defeat of Neuqua Valley. The leading marksman for the Huskies (21-2, 12-1) was senior guard Jack Hill, who made a quartet of 3s in the first quarter and 6 on the night on the way to a game-high 20 points.

"We're above 50 percent shooting as a team for the season, but Jack Hill was hot from 3, we took real good shots and got in rhythm -- 60 percent is a pretty big number," said Naperville North coach Jeff Powers.

For the Wildcats (7-18, 3-10), it was a case of been there, seen that as Naperville North's red-hot shooting performance came a week after Wheaton Warrenville South -- which, not coincidentally, is tied for first in the DVC with the Huskies -- had converted 10 3-pointers against Neuqua.

"They shot 82 percent from 3, I've never seen 82 percent, but they're that good of shooters," said Neuqua coach Todd Sutton. "We've caught the best two teams in the conference two weeks in a row."

Despite that and Hill's torrid shooting, the Wildcats trailed just 16-15 after one quarter as John Poulakidas counted a pair of 3s among his 8 points in the period, while Jonathan Tan chipped in 5 points.

The Huskies opened things up after that, however. They fashioned a 17-5 run over the second quarter's first six minutes to take a 33-20 lead. Five Huskies scored in the stretch, with Hill, Tom Welch and Ryan Laurenzo knocking down 3s and Joseph Bell adding two buckets.

Naperville North's lead grew to as much as 51-33 late in the third quarter and a cruise home seemed in the cards, but the Wildcats kept battling. Stephen Ruiz scored 5 points in the fourth quarter and his basket with two minutes left closed the gap to 57-46. But Hill, Jack Barry, Kevin Lang and Chris Johnson combined to convert six free throws over the final two minutes to keep the Wildcats at bay.

Johnson's 7 points, including a two-handed dunk in the fourth quarter, and 5 rebounds were a welcome sight for Naperville North. He had missed the previous six games with a concussion.

"One of the things we were excited about was getting Chris Johnson back," Powers said. "We won five of six games without him, but it was still nice to get our best player back and get some rust off him as we head into the final three games of the season."

For the Wildcats, Poulakidas led the way with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, while Tan finished with 14.

"Jonathan Tan was phenomenal tonight, John shot the ball real well and Stephen Ruiz had a great game off the bench," Sutton said. "I liked that we were intense and played hard. We ran our offense well, got the ball where we wanted it, got good shots, but we just couldn't guard them."

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