Naperville North grinds out win at Waubonsie Valley
For the most part, Wednesday was another duke it out defensive struggle in the DuPage Valley Conference, but the game was pretty much decided by some lightning-quick sequences by Naperville North guard Bryce Welch in the third quarter.
The Huskies led Waubonsie Valley 19-16 at the half after both teams played tight defense and visiting Naperville North forced 10 turnovers in the first 16 minutes. But things changed after the intermission as the speedy Welch attacked the rim for four baskets in the third quarter, and also kicked out passes to teammate Luke Williams for a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers that led the way to a 45-39 league win on the road.
"In the second half I was able to make some adjustments and I was able to attack and I was able to find teammates for dump offs and layups," the junior guard said. "I think it just worked out playing for myself and my teammates, just making the best decision every time."
Welch's game, and his decision-making, have improved this year after he gained plenty of varsity experience as a sophomore. Eight of his 10 points Wednesday came as his team outscored the Warriors 16-9 to take a 35-25 lead after three quarters of play. He also had those two big assists on 3s by Williams which turned a 27-25 lead into a 33-25 margin.
"Playing with him his awesome, If he sees something he tells me," Welch said of Williams, who led all scorers with 19 points. "I've played with him since third grade. I always have in the back of my head where he is because obviously he's our best scorer. It's just really fun playing with him."
The Huskies defense also played a big role in the win. The visitors swarmed on Warriors center Jackson Langendorf and limited the big guy to 10 points, far fewer than he's scored in many of his teams wins this year.
"We know they're a good team," Williams said of the Warriors. "They beat Neuqua, so we just wanted to close in on the shooters and we know Langendorf is one of their best players. When he gets in the middle, just stunt him a little and make sure he doesn't get an easy layups. We had to get on him when he gets in the paint."
"The league is so tough to begin with and on the road makes it even harder. Waubonsie's a great team," Naperville North coach Gene Nolan said after his team improved to 11-8 overall and 3-2 in the DVC. "They play such great team basketball. They're well coached and they play great defense so we feel very fortunate to come on the road and be able to win. I think Waubonsie's really, really good."
While Welch and Williams were the stars on offense, Jacob Nolen added 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Jack Kallstrand helped the team's strong defensive effort with 4 steals.
Eric Chtilianov hit two clutch 3s in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors (9-9, 2-3) in the game on his way to a team-high 13 points, and Shoi Rathi scored 7.
"I think they came in with a great game plan and their kids had a ton of energy. They were playing their tails off and forced a bunch of turnovers. We could rarely get in a rhythm in the first half and then in the second half we made a few runs, but credit to them they hit some big shots," Waubonsie Valley coach Andrew Schweitzer said.
"I think a lot of our teams, especially us, we look really good one night ... can compete with anyone ... and then DeKalb beats us really badly and we beat Neuqua by 22 ... I don't know how to explain it. It's a matter of who's going to show up on any given night, but I want to reiterate, their kids played very hard tonight."