Naperville North experienced trouble all night long Tuesday against St. Charles East’s trap, so with the game on the line guards Anthony Rehayem and Jelani McClain turned to their trap-beater.
Rehayem threw a long bomb from near his own bucket to an open McClain, who converted a layup and drew a foul for a three-point play that stretched North’s lead to four points, and the Huskies came away with 61-58 nonconference road victory over the Saints.
“That’s one of our plays,” McClain said. “Anthony plays football — he’s not a quarterback — but he can sure throw like one, though.
“He just threw an excellent, great pass to me and I was able to finish and convert a three-point play.”
The play by McClain, who led the Huskies with 17 points, gave them a 59-55 lead with 37.8 seconds remaining immediately after a layup by A.J. Washington had pulled the Saints within a point. Washington missed the free throw, trying to complete a three-point play for the tie.
The four-point lead very nearly didn’t stand as North needed a key steal by Jayson Winick from Saints scoring leader Dom Adduci with 15 seconds left, and then for Adduci’s desperation, off-balance three-pointer from 25 feet to rim off before escaping with a fifth straight win.
“We’re sticking to our motto: Play angry,” said McClain.
At the very least, Naperville North played with persistence. The 6-foot-5 Washington, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, dominated play near the basket, but he couldn’t keep the Huskies from continuing to attack the basket.
“We can’t compete with a guy like No. 1 (Washington), who jumps out of the gym and starts swatting stuff away,” North coach Jeff Powers said. “But I thought our kids didn’t back down and they just kept going at it.”
Naperville North took the lead to 47-39 with the game’s ninth and final lead change during a 9-0 run at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.
Zach Tuxhorn finished with 11 points and Rehayem 10 for North (14-8).
Adduci scored 20 points and Cole Gentry added 12 for St. Charles East (12-11), but the Saints lost for the fourth time in five games despite forcing 26 turnovers. They committed 23 turnovers of their own and got outrebounded 37-21.
“If we’re turning them over that’s great, but every turnover that we get, it doesn’t matter,” Saints coach Patrick Woods said about his team’s inability to rebound and hang onto the ball.
Woods has a solution to the Saints’ inability to rebound and hang onto the ball.
“It’s called practice,” he said. “We’re going to fix that problem real quick or we’re going to be the best-conditioned team in the Kane County area.”