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Friday, April 19, 2024

Naperville North Slows Pace, Upsets Top-Seeded Wheaton Warrenville South


Senior guard Winston Elston called it horrible.

Another senior, Mitch Lewis, said it was just a matter of turning the tables.

Either way you cut it, Naperville North was hell-bent on keeping Wheaton Warrenville South from running wild with the ball and drain the clock.

What transpired was a sluggish style of play necessitated by intentionally fouling early and often, but the fourth-seeded Huskies won’t apologize.

After a 40-35 upset of the top-seeded Tigers in a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Sectional Semifinal, the Huskies sit on the brink of a sectional title.

“First off, give credit to Coach (Jeff) Powers,” Lewis said. “He came up with this plan and introduced it to us Saturday. So we only had a couple days to learn it and we didn’t even if we were going to run it. So all credit goes to him. They play a game, so we decide to throw a game right back at them.”

Naperville North (24-5) advances to meet either 10th-seeded Hinsdale South or sixth-seeded Wheaton North Friday with the program’s first sectional title since 1998 at stake.

A game-high 16 points from the Miami of Ohio-bound tight end helped bring some normalcy to a game that featured 50 fouls – 32 from Naperville North.

But that was the design from the man Elston called a “genius” – Huskies’ coach Jeff Powers.

Thirteen days after the Tigers hit eight three-pointers in a three-point victory Naperville North, it limited them to just two in snapping their 16-game winning streak.

“We just tried to be very, very aggressive early to get them maybe out of holding the ball for 45 seconds,” Powers said. “We got too many big guys. We didn’t want to play defense for a minute and 15 seconds.

“So we’ll let them shoot a couple free throws and then go the other way. The last two games, they scored 39 out of their 76 points on three-pointers. We weren’t going to give them any three-pointers.”

Lewis tallied seven of his 16 points during the third quarter as the Huskies erased a five-point Tigers’ deficit with a 7-0 run to end the quarter.

The 32 fouls prompted Wheaton Warrenville South to take 36 free throws.

Of those 36 free throws, it only made 21 of them.

Meanwhile, Elston hit the free throw that forced the Tigers to attempt two three-pointers in the waning seconds in an attempt to tie the game.

Victory assured after some good defense and two Lewis free throws, Elston was blunt.

“It felt horrible,” he said of the pace. “It’s so hard to
stay in the rhythm because going in and out, you know, but everyone was getting shots and we finished it.”

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Blake Baumgartner
Blake Baumgartner
Raised in Naperville, Blake Baumgartner is a 2001 Naperville Central alumnus and a 2005 graduate of Michigan State's School of Journalism. Since March 2010, he has covered football, boys' basketball and baseball for both The Naperville Sun and Positively Naperville. Follow him on Twitter @BFBaumgartner.


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