DeKalb downs Naperville North
DeKALB -- With the crowd decked out in purple in solidarity of DeKalb senior Bilal Hobbs, who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the DeKalb boys basketball team ground out a 57-49 DuPage Valley Conference win over Naperville North on Friday.
Zach Russell in particular helped wrangle the win for DeKalb (14-3, 4-0), sinking 9 of 12 fourth-quarter free throws on his way to a game-high 21 points, just two days after finding out a classmate was diagnosed with the treatable Stage 4 cancer.
Violet is the official color of non-Hodgkins lymphoma awareness.
"We decided to get purple shirts and socks to support him because he's going through a tough time," Russell said. "That's one of our buddies. We've grown up with him. He's going through a tough time and we're all there for him right now."
The Huskies (8-8, 1-3) kept their deficit to single digits throughout the second half but could not pull closer than two, as the Barbs sank 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice and stretch their winning streak to 11 games.
For Barbs senior Chris Grays, donning the purple socks and the purple warmups in pregame, just like classmates did Friday at DeKalb High School, is just the beginning.
"They do so many things well," Naperville North coach Gene Nolan said. "And I thought one of the things we did early in the game is contain them as best as we could on the offensive backboard. I thought as the game went on, I thought they really started to have their way with us."
Williams' seven first-quarter points helped the Huskies with an early 14-9 lead, but Naperville North struggled to find consistently clean looks against the Barbs' pressure.
"We were cutting, running our motion offense getting us wide-open layups," Williams said.
Grays held Grant Johnson to 10 points and only two made shots from the floor and six free throws.
"He's a great player," Grays said of the 6-foot-5 Johnson. "He's tough he can shoot the ball very well. He can drive. My main thing was just being physical every game."