Boys Basketball: Naperville North wins battle of DVC unbeatensWest Aurora's Brandon Gossett and Naperville North's Chris Mullen face off on Saturday, Jan. 07, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 8, 2012 12:16AM
Naperville North traveled to No. 23 West Aurora on Saturday night in a pivotal contest for the top of the DuPage Valley standings.
Both squads disposed of their opponents on Friday night setting the stage for Saturday’s meeting in Aurora, which lived up to its billing with four ties and 12 lead changes before the Huskies pulled out a 53-51 victory.
Trailing 49-48 with 1:11 remaining, Naperville North’s Chris Mullen hit his third three-pointer of the second half to give the Huskies the lead for good.
“It felt good,” Mullen said. “I had been in a slump and Matt Stachio got me the ball and I was just happy to put it in the basket to help my team.”
West Aurora climbed to within 52-51 on a pair of Jontrel Walker free throws, and then forced a turnover with just 14 seconds remaining. After calling timeout, the Blackhawks turned the ball right back over to the Huskies (10-4, 5-0).
Mullen split a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left so the Blackhawks had a final chance to tie or go for the win, but Spencer Thomas’ 18-footer was off the mark just before the buzzer sounded.
“This win is a credit to these guys who never surrendered all weekend,” Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. “They refused to give up and came up with big defensive plays and rebounds when we needed them.”
West Aurora (12-3, 4-1) appeared on the verge of seizing control of the game late in the fourth quarter when Walker hammered down a three-pointer with 3:10 left to give the Blackhawks their biggest lead of the night at 49-44.
“These guys pulled out a win at Glenbard East the night before so they knew they could do it again,” Powers said. “Tonight was sheer hard work, guts and believing in each other and they showed that.”
Walker (15 points) and teammate Juwan Starks (15 points) heated up in the second half, combing for seven three-pointers, but it still wasn’t enough for the Blackhawks.
“We stopped giving (Starks) the ball,” West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman said. “But it’s hard to get shots when guys are hanging on you wherever you go.”
Derek Westman led a balanced attack for the Huskies with 12 points. Stachio added 11 points, Mullen offered 10 and Kyle Lindberg, who defended Starks most of the second half, had nine.
A four-point lead was the biggest of the first half by either team as the Huskies briefly went ahead 17-13 on a layup by Max Lewis with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter.
Both teams endured a bit of foul trouble, as Lindberg picked up his second foul with 2:36 left in the first quarter, and West Aurora’s Chandler Thomas (8 points) was whistled for his second early in the second quarter.
West Aurora’s Joshua McAuley led all players with seven rebounds.