Batavia's getting its basketball legs back

It is seemingly an annual rite of passage for Batavia basketball coach Jim Nazos - watch the football team advance deep into the state playoffs and then wait for some of those players to get their basketball legs back.

Those legs might be slowly rounding into basketball form, evidenced by the Bulldogs' 19-10 third-quarter run during Wednesday night's 59-45 DuKane Conference victory over St. Charles North (4-3, 0-2) in St. Charles.

One of those football players, senior forward CJ Valente, poured in a game-high 17 points with 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists for the Bulldogs (5-2, 1-1).

"Conditioning is the toughest part (coming back from football)," said Valente. "I've noticed that we've had a lot of fouls in our practices."

Leading 28-24 at halftime despite committing 10 turnovers, the Bulldogs weren't necessarily satisfied with their performance through 2 quarters.

"We came in for halftime and thought it was closer than it should have been," said Valente. "We weren't playing the best defensively and Coach (Nazos) got on us for that."

After the North Stars pulled within 34-31 on an inside basket by senior forward Jake Furtney (10 points, 5 rebounds), the Bulldogs enjoyed a 13-3 run over the final 4:41 of the third quarter to build a 47-34 lead.

The surge featured 5 points, including a 3-pointer from Jacobs Aseltine (10 points, 5 rebounds) and 4 points from Nate Nazos (8 points, 4 rebounds).

"I thought defensively we had a little more activity," said the elder Nazos. "We had one more step defensively which kind of led to tough things for them."

St. Charles North opened the fourth quarter with 6 unanswered points, punctuated by Parker Reinke's transition slam dunk, to make it 47-40 with 6 minutes remaining.

Following a timeout, the Bulldogs regained their composure and sealed the victory with a 10-3 run over the final 2 ½ minutes.

Junior guard/forward Jax Abalos finished with 10 points, while Gavin Engelhart added 8 points off the bench.

"We're still piecing this together here early," said Nazos. "I thought he (Valente) had a lot of good mojo - he got to the rim. He's somebody who is starting to come around."

Valente, Kyle Porter (6 points, 4 rebounds), Charlie Whelpley, Josh Kahley, Brandon Redmond, and Ben Fiegel are among the football players now playing basketball for the Bulldogs.

"The issue is being smooth," said the coach. "It's like catching it and fumbling it, and just missing around the rim. It's coming around.

"I thought it started happening against Huntley (45-29 win), and I thought it started happening more tonight. Our goal is to be exactly what we want to be within a week."

Reinke scored a team-high 14 points for the North Stars, who couldn't overcome 24 turnovers - 17 of them in the second half.

"It's unexplainable," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. "Coming into this one, we were averaging 19.8 turnovers a game. You're not going to win in the DuKane Conference turning the ball over like that.

"We have a lot of work to do, just learning how to play together. We didn't have a lot of time together in the summer, and we didn't have a lot of time together in the fall, so we're playing catch-up in a tough league."

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