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Naperville North's Brian LoLordo drives through the Glenbard North defense on Friday, January 18, 2013 at Napervile North High School in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Glenbard North did everything but finish, and it cost the Panthers a road victory.
The Panthers had Naperville North on its heels right from the opening tip, but the Huskies showed poise and received huge games from a pair of seniors in Bryan LoLordo and Derek Westman to battle back for a 65-61 victory against the Panthers on Friday night in Naperville as both teams completed the first half of DuPage Valley Conference play.
“This was a grind-it-out type of game,” said Westman, whose squad trailed for the first 27 minutes. “We were fortunate to get this one.”
Westman and LoLordo combined for Naperville’s final 11 points, including the game’s final seven.
A Westman three-pointer pulled the Huskies (13-6, 4-3 DVC) even at 61 with 2:04 left.
After Glenbard’s Justin Jackson missed, Westman was fouled driving to the basket and he made a pair of free throws for a 63-61 advantage. Jackson led all scorers with 24 points.
The Panthers (7-8, 3-4) settled for a Chip Flanigan three-point shot on their next possession, but it misfired. Naperville secured the rebound and LoLordo split a pair of free throws for a 64-61 lead. Flanigan finished with 14 points.
Then Westman, who at 6-foot-3 is one of Naperville North’s tallest players, did something rare when he blocked a driving attempt by Glenbard’s Ryan Storto with 16 seconds remaining. The Huskies secured the loose ball and LoLordo sealed the win with an additional free throw.
“I just saw [Storto] driving down the lane and I was on his right and I just went for [the block],” Westman said. “I’m just as surprised as my teammates that I got it.”
Naperville North coach Jeff Powers couldn’t say enough about the effort he received from both Westman (19 points and 10 rebounds) and LoLordo, who had 14 of his 22 points in the opening half.
“The first half, Bryan did a fantastic job of keeping us in the game,” Powers said. “Jayson Winick (11 points) hit some big shots for us in the second half. Derek is just a monster and that block was just unbelievable.”
The Panthers started fast and led 25-15 after the first quarter thanks to four steals leading to easy layups and dunks on the other end. Glenbard’s lead reached 13 on two separate occasions in the second quarter. The Huskies closed within 34-28 at halftime after Powers elected to stop pressing the athletic Panthers, as they were consistently getting to the basket.
Naperville packed in its defense in the second half, creating a much more physical contest as both teams blazed a trail to the free-throw line. Naperville made 18 of 23 free throws, while the Panthers made 23 of 33.
“They made some plays down the stretch. Plays were there for us to be made and we just didn’t make them,” Glenbard North coach Joe Larson said. “I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. Free throws were a big part of the game and we have to make free throws — they just killed us.”