LOMBARD – Naperville North didn’t exactly head to the Montini Christmas Tournament on a high note, but the Huskies are surely leaving the event and the 2021 calendar year on quite a high.
Naperville North (16-2) entered the tourney in Lombard with back-to-back losses — against Benet and Sandburg — after opening the season 12-0. But the Huskies completed an impressive 4-0 run through the tournament with a 54-30 defeat of York Thursday afternoon. Earlier this week they knocked off Whitney Young in overtime and then beat a strong Lyons Township team on Wednesday.
“We feel good. It was really awesome to bounce back after those two losses especially that game against Whitney Young. It was just really great for us to find a way to be resilient after those,” said Peyton Fenner, a junior guard who led the team with 14 points against Lyons Wednesday before adding six points in Thursday’s win over the Dukes.
Once again the Huskies showed off their depth and balanced attack, with Kenzie Hare leading the way with 12 points, much below her season average but plenty enough to help knock off York (8-7), which went 1-3 at Montini.
This year, due to some no-shows by schools, no tourney champion was crowned, but the Huskies and Nazareth both went undefeated.
“I feel like we grew throughout the tournament and I look back at the Whitney Young game,” Naperville North coach Erin Colletti said. “We had a terrible start and dug ourselves a hole, but how good it is to have a win like that within the season to really learn from it. Then, coming back after that against Lyons we had a really good start and solid energy and intensity and that carried out throughout the game. Today another strong start. That has been something we’ve been harping on constantly.”
Against York, Hare knocked down a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession and the Huskies led 15-6 after one quarter and 35-12 at the half. Hare finished with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds, while the offense also got nine points apiece from Hope Aniceto and Sarah Crossett, and eight more from Abby Drendel.
“We definitely move the ball well and we know who’s on,” Drendel said. “If somebody’s not on they’re going to look to pass the ball to the person who has the hotter hand. We had just lost two games before this and that was rough. We were kinda down and then coming into this tournament we had a little bit of a break to just breathe a bit. We came back here and we just fought.”
Mariann Blass had four 3s to pace York with 12 points, but she didn’t shoot as well as she typically does. Lizzie Baldridge and Hannah Meyers each chipped in with 5 points for a Dukes team that suffered one- and two-point losses in their two previous Montini tourney games.
“It’s been a rough stretch but we’re faced some strong teams and we returned four girls from last year,” York coach Brandon Collings said. “We have to learn how to finish games. We have got to learn how to win, that’s where we’re at right now. We’ve lost some games that could’ve won, should’ve won. To beat them [Huskies] we’ve got to shoot well and they’ve got to miss some shots. We didn’t shoot well and they didn’t miss many shots.”