Naperville North coach Jeff Powers knew of the athletic prowess of visiting Plainfield East, and he had a plan to defuse that talent.
Working methodically on offense the entire game, the Huskies kept the game close, then won 33-32 on Jelani McClain’s driving layup with 30 seconds remaining.
The non-conference win improves Naperville North to 13-8 on the season.
McClain’s winning foray to the basket came on a clearout called by Powers.
“I sized up (the Bengal defender) and was able to get into his body to clear some space,” said McClain of his physical drive to the hoop. “We call the play ‘Irish’ when I can kick it to the shooter in the corner if they take away my drive.”
The tempo was set early by Naperville North. In the first period, each team only had seven possession and the Huskies led 9-4 at the end of the quarter. North worked the ball back and forth, looking for a good shot.
“We been working on our Princeton offense since last Friday, and it worked well against Glenbard North,” said Powers. “We basically have five guards out there, so we figure we want more time on offense and we want to wear out the big guys’ legs. We’ll do it until it doesn’t work.”
On defense, the Bengals faced a tenacious Huskie zone defense that took University of Illinois-bound junior Aaron Jordan out of the flow. Jordan took only five shots, all beyond the arc, and made two.
“Anthony Rehayem did a great job when Jordan was in his area,” said Powers. “It was key that we didn’t allow any middle penetration. And Anthony McClain is a pretty darn good sophomore, a special kid.”
In fact, Jordan was called on to work for the winning shot but was covered and had to pass to Nick Novak in the deep corner. His three-point shot was not close, and after two more in-bounds play and some clock controversy in the final second, the Huskies had the victory.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game all week,” said McClain. ”Our motto is to go 212 degrees for 32 minutes, and we did that tonight.”
Only Joshua Smith was able to get going offensively for Plainfield East. He had three baskets in the post and added five free throws for 11 points.
Anthony Rehayem led Naperville North with 11 points on a pair of treys. His three-pointer brought the Huskies within 32-31 with 2:21 remaining.
In addition to McClain, Baylor Griffin also had six points for the Huskies.