Boys Basketball: Naperville North looking to buck the trend
Updated: February 15, 2012 6:43PM
Since entering the DuPage Valley Conference before the 1997-98 school year, West Aurora has been the big and bad boy on the basketball court.
Claiming seven straight DVC crowns from 2000-06, highlighted by winning the 2000 Class AA state title, the Blackhawks quickly laid supremacy on the basketball court in a conference that’s widely known and respected for its football prowess.
Since West Aurora ran off its stranglehold on the conference by winning the seven straight conference championships to start the 2000s, only four schools have won the DVC---West Aurora, Glenbard East, Naperville Central and Wheaton North.
This weekend marks Naperville North’s opportunity to join that list.
A victory tonight at home against West Aurora would not only ensure a second season sweep of the Blackhawks in three years, but it would also ensure Naperville North’s claim to at least a share of its first DVC crown since 1997-98---the Blackhawks’ first year in the conference.
Perched atop the DVC standings with a 10-1 record, one game clear of 9-2 West Aurora, it was the road sweep of Glenbard East and West Aurora on successive nights during the first weekend of 2012 that really started to set this course of events in motion.
“I think when it gets down to the end of the season, some games have impact and this one definitely has an impact,” Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. “But we don’t get to this spot if we don’t go there in January and win two games on the road. So I agree----there’s a big impact if we can get that conference title. But in order to get to this game, we had to beat those two teams on the road.”
In Powers’ three years at the helm of the Naperville North program, it has taken four of its six games against West Aurora.
A fifth victory tonight in the two teams’ seventh meeting since Powers took over for Mark Lindo would complete one of the most improbable ascensions to the DVC title in recent memory.
Limiting Blackhawks’ star senior Juwan Starks to 15 points and no points in the fourth quarter last month, the Huskies escaped Aurora with a 53-51 victory on Jan. 7.
Doing what he has been doing all year for the 17-6 Huskies, senior Kyle Lindberg will be given the assignment to shadow Starks all night.
Lindberg held Glenbard East senior Dante Bailey to just six points in Naperville North’s 47-42 victory over the two-time defending DVC champions last Friday.
“Kyle’s been doing that all year. Whoever we need to shut down, he comes in and shuts them down,” Powers said. “He’ll have to do it again. He reached the challenge.
“He loves the challenges there. It’ll be fun to watch him play.”
Should West Aurora forge a two-way tie atop the conference with two games to play by getting an imperative road victory tonight, then the pressure shifts into Naperville North’s direction, starting tomorrow night at crosstown rival Naperville Central.
Putting together a pair of victories over Hinsdale Central and Glenbard North last week, the Redhawks have already eclipsed their victory total of all of last year with 14 victories while in the midst of getting back on good footing after a rough three-game stretch to close out January and start February.
Scoring 64 points last Friday in its 64-55 victory over Glenbard North, Naperville Central (14-9, 5-6 DuPage Valley), broke the 60-point mark for the first time since tallying 62 points in a 62-50 victory on Jan. 7 over Wheaton North, its opponent tonight.
“We’re capable of (scoring points). We’ve just talked about being aggressive at both ends of the floor and getting after people like we were early in the year when we were having success,” Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said.
That 12-point victory over Wheaton North last month marked their 10th victory of the season. Since that point, the Redhawks have only won four games----perhaps a byproduct of their plentiful youth.
Losing at Naperville North, 62-58, in triple overtime on Jan. 13, a game after beating Wheaton North, Naperville Central has revenge squarely on its mind, but it realizes that it isn’t good enough to just roll the ball out and think it’s gonna win.
“We want to avenge every loss that we can. We want to be able to come back and beat the teams that we lost to the first time,” Kramer said. “Friday night’s big. We gotta take care of business Friday night before we worry about Saturday.”
Since Northwestern junior forward Drew Crawford’s sophomore year at Naperville Central during the 2006-07 season, the Redhawks have won seven of the past 11 meetings between the two teams.
Beginning a tough three-game stretch to conclude the regular season, which finishes Wednesday at home against Glenbard North, Naperville North (17-6, 10-1 DuPage Valley) is undoubtedly solely focused on trying to accomplish something it hasn’t done in 14 years---winning a DVC title.
But a victory tomorrow night would also give Naperville North two victories over Naperville Central in a season for the first time in six years, when it took two of three meetings during the 2005-06 season.
“I think it’s gonna be, no matter when we play, (close). Every year we’ve played so far, I think we got one game where we won by eight points. They got one game in my three years that they won by eight points,” Powers said. “Everything else has been about a two-to-five-point game. So I think it’s gonna be that type of game.”