Boys Basketball: Naperville North looks sharp at summer shootoutNaperville North's Jayson Winick and the Huskie's competed in the Hoop Mountain Shootout on Friday, June 15, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 21, 2012 6:27AM
The memory of a 65-53 regional semifinal loss to Oswego has faded for Naperville North’s basketball team.
Enough still lingers, though, to provide positive inspiration as the Huskies progress through their summer schedule.
“We went out last year in one game and it was very hard because we had high hopes of going to sectionals and beyond,” North senior guard/forward Derek Westman said. “There’s only five of us back but we want to push forward through off-season and get back to where we were last year.”
The Huskies over the weekend gave an indication they can be back where they were last year at the top of the DuPage Valley by finishing the West Aurora Hoop Mountain Shootout with a 4-1 record.
“We’ve been about .500 or above in summer league at Geneva and our tournaments,” North coach Jeff Powers said. “So this was a real positive.
“We’ve had six or seven guys who’ve looked really good. When we put the other guys in we struggle for a while. They need to get the experience of an off-season, yet.”
North’s tournament-closing win over Stevenson typified the play in four victories. Anthony Rehayem hit two key three-pointers to help hold off Stevenson late in the final game.
“Brian Lolordo, our senior guard, did a great job and (junior forward) Anthony Rehayem has been unbelievable,” Powers said. “Derrick Westman and (6-5 senior) Rafee Mahmud have been really strong as our big guys and J.P. Riley (senior, 6-foot uard) shot the ball out of his mind all this week.
“Then we had (junior) Jayson Winick really come on. We knew he’d be good and he’s living up to that. We haven’t filled all the roles out yet but we’re learning the concept of the game.”
Westman said he notices a difference in the way teams treat North after its run to a DuPage Valley title last year. It’s going to be hard for the Huskies to sneak up on anyone, now.
“I think it kind of put a target on our backs,” Westman said of the DuPage Valley title. “We came out of nowhere. We were ranked to get sixth out of eight teams and then we go and take it.
“They’re (opponents) definitely looking at us differently. They have to be thinking we’re not a joke. So we’re going to have to play above our talent range and play as a team.”
The biggest question going forward will be whether the Huskies can combat some bigger teams inside next season after losing 6-6 forward Mike Keane to graduation.
“I think we can go inside and make up (for his loss) with our strength,” Westman said. “Rafi gets big boards and I just try to get in and get under guys. They look at you differently when you’re short. They think you’re going to be a pushover.
“So far we’ve been able to pass into the post or get it back out to Anthony and he’s hitting everything. I think we’re set.”
North takes its next test this week at a tournament downstate at Illinois Wesleyan and they’ll be at Shirk Center for the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game Saturday.
“Summer ball depends a lot on who you play and who is there that day when you play,” Powers said. “The wins aren’t as important as fitting the team together and setting a tone for November.”