Williams double-doubles, leads Naperville North past Wheaton Academy
Heading into the fourth quarter, Naperville North's young basketball team was in need of a senior moment, and that's when senior guard Zeke Williams stepped up and delivered on Saturday night.
Visiting Wheaton Academy had just scored the final six points of the third quarter to close to within 39-36, but Williams scored twice inside and then knocked down a 3-pointer for eight points in the first two minutes of the final quarter. That burst helped power the Huskies (3-5) to a 61-49 nonconference win, and the Naperville North veteran finished his evening with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
"Teams make runs all the time," he said. "Coach let us know just to kind of calm down, breathe, not to take quick shots. Then we scored, played good, hard defense and their run just stopped."
After Williams' 3 upped the Huskies' lead to 46-38, Vaughn Beallis followed with a layup for a 10-point lead and the Warriors never got within eight points the rest of the way.
Naperville North also got 15 points and four assists from Jake Torcasio, but just as important was the defensive effort by the whole team in the fourth quarter. Wheaton Academy sharpshooter Samuel Anderson hit on five 3s on his way to scoring 17 points, but he was held to just one 2-point field goal in the final quarter.
"We knew we had to fix some things defensively because we were a little uncomfortable with the way they shot the ball," Torcasio said. "But we made the adjustments and got it done.
"We knew we had to pressure the ball because that's how we can limit the 3s."
With a pair of sophomores now starting in Luke Williams and Cole Arl, and sophomore Bryce Welch also in the team's regular rotation, youthful Naperville North is developing and improving each week.
"I think we're growing a lot," Torcasio said. "The young guys are really stepping up and contributing a lot. We have such a good team chemistry and bond."
For the 3-4 Warriors, Cole Andrews scored 11 points and Noah Richcreek added seven. Huskies coach Gene Nolan felt his team's defense did as well as possible against a team featuring several sharp shooters.
"Wheaton Academy is one of the best shooting teams we'll face all year. I've been super impressed watching them on tape," Nolan said. "All five of their guys can space the floor and shoot 3s consistently. They're a difficult cover defensively.
"I thought our kids did as well as we could considering how hard they are to guard. And we rebounded better than we had been so there are some things that we continue to improve upon."