Boys Basketball: Naperville North looking to fly under the radarMike Keane of Naperville North glances at Greg Garro (50) of Downers Grove South after snagging a rebound. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 19, 2012 7:18PM
Amid little fanfare and no one averaging double-digit scoring, Naperville North is quickly earning a reputation as one of the best 12-4 teams no one knows much about.
Naperville North coach Jeff Powers admits he’d like to see his team maintain that reputation by continuing to stay under the radar.
But that will become increasingly difficult if his charges keep up their solid production that has been indicative of their 12-4 start.
Claiming 11 victories in its last 13 outings while finding itself sitting atop the DuPage Valley Conference with a 6-0 record, Naperville North travels to Carol Stream tonight to face one of its two closest pursuers, Glenbard North.
“No, we’re not even talking about that,” Powers said when asked if he thinks the Huskies have a bullseye on their backs. “For the first half of the season, for the first part of the season, until right about now, no one even knew who we were.
“So we’re gonna keep that identity that we’re the guys that never get the pub and all the accolades. So we’re gonna take it like that and play hard that day and whatever happens happens. We’re not putting any undo pressure on ourselves.”
After scoring 21 points in a close loss to Downers Grove South at the Downers Grove North Winter Classic on Saturday, senior Josh Fleming is averaging 17.4 points a game for the Panthers.
Prior to the loss to the Mustangs, Glenbard North (8-6, 5-1 DuPage Valley) had won four straight games, including a 68-51 home rout of Naperville Central on Jan. 6, which saw Fleming score 27.
“Well, they’re so darn athletic and not only Fleming. They got the two big boys inside (seniors Ryan Krueger and Troy Jackson) and they’ve got a lot of perimeter players,” Powers said. “Coach (Joe) Larson does a heck of a job utilizing their talents, so there are a lot of things that concern. Their pressure concerns us. Fleming concerns us (in) that he’s a tough matchup. They’re a real good team.”
The Huskies registered a pair of double-digit victories over the Panthers a year ago and have won all four of their road games within the DVC up to this point.
Undoubtedly, the key to getting its fifth conference road win most likely will lie with how Naperville North deals with Fleming.
Faced with a similar situation in unfamiliar surroundings against Glenbard East’s Dante Bailey and West Aurora’s Juwan Starks, Naperville North limited the pair to 18 and 15 points, respectively.
The consecutive victories over the Rams and Blackhawks to begin 2012 were largely thanks to the contributions defensively from seniors Kyle Lindberg and Mike Keane on both Bailey and Starks.
The duo will likely be given the assignment to watch Fleming all night, in hopes of doing a similar job on the 6-foot-6 forward.
“You got an outstanding player like Fleming, the same as like Starks and Bailey, that we’ll use a variety of defenses and a variety of people on Fleming to try and slow him down,” Powers said. “I don’t think you stop a good player like that. I think you just try and slow him down and take him out of his rhythm a little bit and try to hold on for dear life at the end.”
Metea bounces back
Bob Vozza’s Metea Valley outfit responded well in the aftermath of its lone loss of the year, a 62-61 setback at Waubonsie Valley on Jan. 11. The Mustangs registered victories over St. Charles North and Rich Central.
Senior Kenny Obendorf scored 16 and 28 in the No. 10 Mustangs’ last two games, leaving his season average sitting at 18.5 points a game.
“Obviously, coming in, whenever we play anyone, we’re gonna get their best shot, just because of (the) way our season’s gone,” said Vozza, whose 16-1 team travels to two-win East Aurora tonight. “It’s something that we’ve got to be ready for. Every one of our games is gonna be like that for the rest of the year.”
Benet faces Marian Catholic
Fresh off its 64-55 victory over Oswego Saturday at the Naperville North Shootout, two-time defending East Suburban Catholic Conference champion Benet heads over to play Marian Catholic tonight.
The Redwings (13-4, 1-1 East Suburban Catholic) have won two in a row after going through a rare three-game losing streak and Redwings’ coach Gene Heidkamp was very pleased with how his group played against Oswego.
“I thought that this is one of the toughest games that we played all year,” Heidkamp said last Saturday. “I thought we played with tremendous toughness defensively. I thought we did a great job on the glass. I think we did a good job of taking care of the ball considering they’re a very good pressure team. They’re very athletic and they do a great job of getting all over you. I thought our kids made enough plays.”
Meanwhile, Naperville Central (10-6, 2-4 DuPage Valley) and Waubonsie Valley (12-5, 5-1 Upstate Eight Valley) will both be looking to get back on the winning track tonight with road games against West Chicago and South Elgin, respectively.
Neuqua Valley (12-9, 2-4 Upstate Eight Valley) hosts Lake Park tonight after dropping two games on Monday at the Rockton Hononegah tournament.