Naperville North locks down victory over Harlan
When Decarius Davis and Tershon Dobine opened visiting Harlan's scoring with back-to-back jumpers in the paint, it appeared to portend a difficult evening for Naperville North.
Instead, those baskets turned out to be the offensive highlights for the Falcons. The Huskies locked the down the paint and pretty much every other area on their defensive end of the court the rest of the way in racing to a 55-23 nonconference victory.
"We were trying to limit their paint touches and we played great on the defensive end," said Naperville North coach Gene Nolan. "We also wanted to play 5-on-5 defensively and not in disadvantageous situations like 3-on-2 or 2-on-1."
The numbers illustrate how successful the Huskies (9-8) were in sticking to their defensive game plan. The Falcons (10-9), with the paint essentially off limits, shot 20% from the field, including just 2 for 21 from 3-point range.
Harlan's off-kilter shooting also served to spark the Naperville North offense. The long rebounds off 3-point misses turned into fastbreak opportunities.
The main beneficiary was Riley Thompson, who finished with a game-high 19 points; at the end of the third quarter, with his night long since over, he had as many points as the Falcons had as a team as Naperville North held a comfortable 48-19 lead.
"It's a credit to my teammates, they found me open in transition," Thompson said. "As a team, we just played how we could play. We didn't let them speed us up, we just played how we want to play."
After the Falcons opened a 4-2 lead in the first 75 seconds, the Huskies responded with a 17-0 run over the next five minutes on the way to a 19-6 advantage after one quarter. Thompson had 7 points in the quarter, but he was actually outdone by Grant Johnson, who tallied 8, while his 6 rebounds helped trigger the transition offense.
"It started with us taking care of the ball offensively, which kept them from getting out on the break," Nolan said. "We were also really running the floor on offense with our rim runners, and Myles Barry and Michael Imhoff did a good job pitching the ball downcourt."
Coming out of halftime with a 29-point lead, Thompson scored Naperville North's first 5 points before calling it a night. The large lead enabled Nolan to get some quality playing time for reserves Josh Kaufman, Peter Krebs, Ali Yazici, Samanyu Parvathaneni and Nick Grace and they responded by combining for 9 points and 7 rebounds over the last two quarters, which were played with a running clock.
"It was nice to see them get out there and get some minutes," Thompson said. "They work so hard in practice, so they deserved to be out there."