Drendel's all-around play sparks Naperville North

Abby Drendel can sometimes get overshadowed on her own team.

The Naperville North junior point guard is one of the key players on a team with Class 4A state championship aspirations.

At times, Drendel's all-around contributions can get lost due to her numerous high-profile teammates, namely newcomer Kenzie Hare. The Saint Louis recruit, a transfer from Bartlett, is one of the top scorers in the state.

Junior guard Layla Henderson, a two-way impactful player, is also adding her name to be included as a player to watch with a breakout season.

But Drendel's passing, rebounding and steadiness running the offense, while distributing the ball to a number of scorers has been instrumental in the Huskies' fast start.

That was clearly the case on Saturday afternoon at New Trier's Northfield campus.

Drendel scored a team-high 16 points to lead the Huskies to a 63-51 victory over Marist in the second annual Grow the Game Tournament. Drendel added six assists, including scoring 6 points and dishing out 3 assists in the fourth quarter while the RedHawks were attempting a comeback.

Point guard Kira Chivers scored 13 points to lead Marist (7-2).

Drendel, a three-year varsity player, managed to outscore Hare, a 2,000-plus point career scorer, for the second straight game. Hare fouled out with just over 2 minutes left, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Henderson added 9 points and 8 rebounds and Peyton Fenner contributed 10 points for the Huskies (12-0).

When told she scored more points than Hare, Drendel joked that she might remind Hare who was the leading scorer on Saturday.

"I wouldn't do that, but maybe I'll say a little something," Drendel said, smiling. "But it's great to have so many great players. We all worked together well, and that's how we're going to win. I think we can go to state. When one person is off, we always have another player capable of helping out."

Drendel carried the scoring load for a two-minute segment in the first quarter to give the Huskies a 14-5 lead that they would not relinquish.

"It was just the energy and we knew stuff is not going to come our way at times, but we have to push through it," Drendel said. "That's what we did today. Kenzie fouled out. She's the main person we like to give the ball to because she's smart, but we won."

Henderson said Drendel's consistent play helped steady the Huskies in some tough moments against a quality opponent.

"We worked together, and that always works for us," Henderson said. "Abby is a really good player. We all trust her and can rely on her to run our offense and make the best decisions."

Naperville North coach Erin Colletti, a former player at DePaul, said it was a special treat to beat her former mentor, Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly. Due to a last-minute scheduling change, the Huskies shifted to play Marist. Connolly, an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer inductee as a player and coach, was Colletti's varsity coach when she was a freshman at Sandburg.

"This is my first time playing her," Colletti said. "I started playing basketball in seventh grade, but she told me to come up to varsity. I got so much better playing with her for one year. I admire her very much.

"When the tournament switched up, it was cool to play Mary Pat. Marist is a very physical and talented team. I'm happy how we battled. We finished strong. All five of the girls on the floor are scoring threats, and that showed with (Hare) fouling out."

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