Naperville North gets big contribution from bench against Neuqua Valley
It's an understated statistic: Points off the bench.
But when you've got them, good things usually happen.
The Naperville North boys basketball team got 14 points from its bench mob Friday, which proved to be the difference in a 47-40 victory over Neuqua Valley in the DuPage Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Senior forward Vaughn Beallis and sophomore guard Bryce Welch each contributed 6 points -- including first-quarter 3-pointers apiece -- to help the Huskies improve to 2-3.
But Beallis and Welch demurred any credit for the victory, preferring to focus on the team as a collective unit.
"It's all about the guys in practice," Beallis said. "We push each other tremendously hard. It doesn't matter ... We could be doing a simple rebounding drill. We go 100 percent all the time, and that's what leads us to our success."
"It takes all of us to beat a team like that," Welch added. "When it comes right down to it, it's really everybody. It's not about starters, or who comes off the bench."
Know what? They're right. Starting senior guards Jake Torcasio and Zeke Williams pulled their weight, and defensively, the Huskies combined to hold the Wildcats to just 4 field goals in the second half and only 1 in the last 3:55 of the contest.
Of course, a rowdy student section pumped up the volume at key points, especially during a 9-0 run in the last 4:04 of the third quarter that gave the Huskies a slim 35-34 lead after being down 34-26.
"I thought the energy was really good at a time when we really needed it," said Naperville North coach Gene Nolan. "I think when we were up against the ropes, we got back into the center of the ring. I thought that was a great step for our guys to know they could do that."
The Huskies put together a 10-2 run to close the game, giving up only a baseline layup by Neuqua Valley senior guard Jayden Dean with 7.3 seconds left.
But by then, it was too late.
"Fourteen percent shooting in the second half," said Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton. "School record. All-time low. It might be a world record. I've never heard a stat that bad."
Despite all that, the Wildcats (3-3, 0-1) nearly put three in double figures. Dean finished with 9 points and 4 boards, while senior forward Cole Vonnahme paced the visitors with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Sophomore guard Luke Kinkade chipped in 12 points and 3 rebounds, including three 3-pointers.
Those three did all the scoring damage for Neuqua Valley in opening minutes of the third quarter. Kinkade hit his third 3 at 6:17 and Dean hit his only long-distance shot at 4:55 that gave his team that 34-26 advantage.
But the Huskies responded with its 9-0 run to end the period, including a pair of Torcasio steals and layups in the last 56 seconds.