Naperville North breaks Glenbard East’s heart again

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Naperville North enjoyed a feeling of déjà vu Thursday night.

Glenbard East, though, could call it a feeling of déjà blue.

For the second time in less than a month, Naperville North rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to knock off the Rams 38-35, with sophomore guard Laurel Pereira scoring the game-winning points in both games.

This time the win came on Naperville North’s home court, where the Huskies held pregame festivities to honor seniors Morganne Freeman and Haley McClain. But the hosts had little else to celebrate until the end.

“It was a tough way to have to pull out a win but we all stuck together as a team and fought through,” said Pereira, who scored four of her seven points in the four quarter. “This one is really for our seniors. Morganne and Haley are amazing and we played this one for them.”

For the longest time, it appeared the Rams (6-14, 4-8 DuPage Valley Conference) would spoil the party. The visitors scored the first 10 points of the game and led 19-4 following a three-pointer by Brasia Solid with 5:40 left in the second quarter.

But Kayla Sharples scored the last four points of the first half to pull the Huskies (15-8, 6-4) within 21-11 at intermission.

“The first half was a little bit rough but we were only down by 10 so we knew that we could come back as we have done in the past,” Sharples said. “We had to give extra effort and extra energy and that’s what we did.”

In the first meeting between the two sides back on Jan. 11, the Huskies trailed by 11 after three quarters only to outscore the Rams 17-3 in the fourth quarter.

This time the Huskies got their comeback rolling in the third quarter, beginning the second half with three consecutive steals and coast-to-coast layups. Sophomore Caleigh Corbett got the first one and Sharples had the next two.

Glenbard East was never able to regain its rhythm offensively.

“They really do a good job of trying to control the tempo,” Pereira said. “In the first quarter they held the ball for three minutes on offense and we just have to keep our energy level up all the time, because when we’re not playing with energy that’s when we tend to struggle and get frustrated.”

Instead, the Huskies buckled down defensively and rode the hot hand of Sharples, who scored 15 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, including a putback with 1:24 left to cut the gap to 35-34.

The Rams, who didn’t score in the final 3:16, missed a free throw and Pereira sank a pull-up 16-footer with 50 seconds left to put the Huskies ahead.

After Solid missed an open three-point try from the left corner, Sharples got the rebound and made both ends of a one-and-one with 2.8 ticks left to cap the scoring. Solid’s desperation heave from half court bounced off the backboard.

“It feels amazing,” said Sharples, who also had 11 rebounds and six steals. “It’s Senior Night and we just wanted to leave it all on the floor.”

The Huskies did so and learned something in the process.

“We struggled tonight offensively but I think the message is when we struggle offensively we can still pull out games as long as we defend and rebound,” Naperville North coach Jason Dycus said. “We didn’t have a very good first half but I was very proud of the girls the way we responded in the second half.”

Elie Donovan led the Rams with 11 points and Solid had nine.

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