DuPage boys basketball notes: Defense keys Waubonsie Valley's fast start

Prior to the season, Waubonsie Valley basketball coach Andrew Schweitzer felt his team would be worth a look-see.

"We have an extraordinarily athletic and versatile group that will look to run and should be fun to watch," Schweitzer said last month.

Waubonsie opened its season by capturing the championship at Batavia's Ken Peddy Windmill City Classic, capping a 4-0 tourney with a 47-31 victory over the host Bulldogs on Nov. 25.

Earlier in the tourney, the Warriors defeated Marmion (67-44), Raby (89-39), and Streamwood (89-29).

Last weekend, Waubonsie continued its winning ways, beginning its DuPage Valley Conference schedule with a 60-44 victory over Naperville Central, before handing Oswego a 73-45 nonconference loss last Saturday.

After finishing with a 15-16 record last season, the Warriors' 6-0 start is a huge step moving forward.

"It starts and ends with our defense," said Schweitzer, whose team has allowed just 38 points per game. "Our defense will determine our result every time out.

"I've been particularly impressed by Tre Blissett, Moses Wilson, and Tyreek Coleman at the front of our press/defense. Their length, disruption, athleticism, and willingness to compete on the defensive end have been tremendous. No matter the score, Ryan Morton's willingness to take charges gets the entire team juiced up."

Against Naperville Central, the Warriors trailed 22-18 at halftime before a 27-12 third-quarter rally.

"We came into this season unsure about who would step up as a leader, and it has been awesome to see our seniors step up into those leadership roles and hold the entire team accountable," said Schweitzer. "When we were down at half for the first time all season, we heard the kids rallying in the locker room with each other before we came in."

St. Francis update:

St. Francis shook off a 60-58 season opening loss to Downers Grove South with 5 consecutive wins, including 3 victories at the inaugural Bob Schick Thanksgiving tournament in Geneva.

Following a 62-28 triumph over Providence-St. Mel, the Spartans improved to 5-1 with last weekend's 64-49 win over Christ the King.

Against Providence-St. Mel, St. Francis built an 18-3 first-quarter lead that grew into a 35-7 halftime advantage.

Senior guard Kelton McEwen, a transfer from Bartlett, led 4 players in double figures with 12 points, supported by Mark Balaskovits (11 points), Aaron Cook (10 points), and Gavin Mueller (10 points).

McEwen poured in a game-high 21 points against Christ the King.

"Kelton has blended in very well," said Spartans coach Erin Dwyer. "He is a great teammate, and he just wants to find ways to help his team win like the rest of the guys. He is one of the best guards in the state, and he is very efficient. We have some very solid players and Kelton just adds to that with his willingness to help his team."

Nico Quaranta, Anthony Quaranta, Patrick Spahn, Nathan Silagi, and Dylan Ston have also contributed.

"The hard work in the summer has paid off," said Dwyer. "We had multiple guys buy into doing a lot of work in the weight room and working on their game together."

Lake Park update:

Inching closer to the 1,000-point career mark, Lake Park senior guard Cam Cerese moved into eighth place on the Lancers' all-time scoring list with a 26-point performance during last weekend's 47-39 nonconference win over South Elgin.

Cerese began the week's play just 42 points shy of the 1,000-point milestone.

"Cam is such a special player - he gets so much attention and draws so many fouls," said Lancers coach Billy Pitcher, whose team improved to 6-1 by beating Geneva Tuesday before Friday's home game against St. Charles East. "He has 156 points through the first six games. I've never coached anyone as good as him who refuses to be shut down and can't be denied the ball.

"He is relentless on both ends of the floor. He guarded (6-foot-7 Jax) Abalos from Batavia and held him to 6 points. He plays so hard on defense and still has energy for offense. He is indefatigable."

After allowing 70 points to Oak Park-River Forest in a season-opening loss, the Lancers have clamped down on the defensive end in victories over DeKalb (50-42), Plainfield North (53-47), and Batavia (37-23).

"The most points we allowed all last season was 57," said Pitcher. "Oak Park scored 70 on us, so we had to refocus on the defensive end. We are taking better shots and not turning the ball over, so teams aren't getting runouts on us from live ball turnovers."

Glenbard North update:

Glenbard North is off to a 5-0 start, thanks to the play of seniors Jalen Crues and JJ Hernandez, and sophomores Josh Abushanab and Jack Schager.

Crues, a 6-7 forward, and Hernandez, a 6-5 forward, lead the team in scoring at 16.6 and 14.8 points per game, respectively. Crues averages 8.4 rebounds, while Hernandez averages 3 assists and 2.3 steals.

Abushanab (13.8 ppg, 5 rpg) and Schager (7.2 ppg, 50 percent 3-point shooting) have enjoyed early season success.

"The key to our start is that we are playing together and executing," said Panthers coach Kevin Tonn. "We were very young last year, so having a year under our belt has given experience and confidence.

"One thing we have seen throughout our first 5 games is the unselfishness on the offensive end. We are continuing to learn what it takes to win games on the defensive end."

The Panthers visit defending DuKane Conference champion Wheaton Warrenville South (4-2, 1-0) Wednesday night.

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