Naperville North opens DVC play in style

  • Naperville North player Layla Henderson is stripped and fouled by Neuqua Valley player Shannon Gillispie in girls basketball game action at Neuqua Valley on Thursday.

    Naperville North player Layla Henderson is stripped and fouled by Neuqua Valley player Shannon Gillispie in girls basketball game action at Neuqua Valley on Thursday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North's Kenzie Hare takes a shot against Neuqua Valley on Thursday in Naperville.

    Naperville North's Kenzie Hare takes a shot against Neuqua Valley on Thursday in Naperville. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North's Abby Drendel pressures Neuqua Valley's Zoe Navarro.

    Naperville North's Abby Drendel pressures Neuqua Valley's Zoe Navarro. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North player Kenzie Hare with teammate Layla Henderson before the game against Neuqua Valley in girls basketball.

    Naperville North player Kenzie Hare with teammate Layla Henderson before the game against Neuqua Valley in girls basketball. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North player Kenzie Hare works on her skills before the game against Neuqua Valley in girls basketball.

    Naperville North player Kenzie Hare works on her skills before the game against Neuqua Valley in girls basketball. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North player Kenzie Hare under pressure from Neuqua Valley's defense in girls basketball.

    Naperville North player Kenzie Hare under pressure from Neuqua Valley's defense in girls basketball. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North player Kenzie Hare plays Neuqua Valley in girls basketball.

    Naperville North player Kenzie Hare plays Neuqua Valley in girls basketball. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North player Kenzie Hare plays Neuqua Valley in girls basketball.

    Naperville North player Kenzie Hare plays Neuqua Valley in girls basketball. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/2/2021 9:53 PM

Neuqua Valley found out in a hurry why Naperville North is undefeated during the opening weeks of the girls basketball season.

Thursday night in the DuPage Valley Conference opener in south Naperville, the Huskies delivered an early haymaker.

 

As a result, Neuqua Valley would only come within single digits once after the Huskies scored the first 12 points of the game.

Naperville North, behind unselfish teamwork and arresting play in the open court, throttled the Wildcats 68-37.

All five of the Naperville North starters -- Layla Henderson, Kenzie Hare, Peyton Fenner, Sarah Crossett and Abby Drendel -- had field goals during an 18-3 blitz to open the game.

"When we move the ball we look good," said Hare, the Huskies' St. Louis University-bound guard who torched the Wildcats with a game-high 25 points. "We love transition (basketball). That's our fastest part of the game."

"When we are in transition, that's when we are at our best," said Crossett, who finished with 9 points.

Naperville North, which extended its season-opening winning streak to six games with its league-beginning triumph, was on pace to eclipse the century mark after its first-quarter outburst was -- for the Wildcats' perspective -- mercifully ended by the horn.

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The Huskies enjoyed a 25-9 cushion entering the second quarter.

There would be bright spots periodically for Neuqua Valley (3-3, 0-1), none more so than when guard Caitlin Washington scored 9 consecutive team points on three 3-point possessions, but the Huskies were never truly threatened in taking a 41-24 lead into the intermission.

"We always like to start our games fast," said Hare, who drained her first three 3-point attempts in scoring 13 of her game-high total in the first two quarters. "We got into our press, which brings the energy."

The Huskies' many field goals in transition were complemented by exceptional passing not only on the fast break but also in their half-court sets.

"We want to play for each other and give good passes," Crossett said.

In a game in which reserves were a rarity in the opening half, Hope Aniceto did not take long to dent the scoring column for Naperville North when entering for the first time midway through the third quarter. The senior guard nailed the last of the Huskies' five 3-pointers on her first shot attempt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hare initiated a running clock with 4:56 to play by converting a pair of free throws.

Fenner joined Hare in double figures with 10 points; Abby Homan and Drendel added seven each.

Washington led Neuqua Valley with 13 points; Kylee Norkus and Zoe Navarro added nine and seven, respectively.

"In today's society, everybody wants instant gratification," Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. "We are starting three sophomores, a junior and a senior who has never started before. The key is, the younger kids have to learn from this experience and apply the lessons from it."

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