DOWNERS GROVE – Breaking its season schedule into a multitude of segments, Downers Grove North nearly aced the first one.
After a season-opening setback, the Trojans will head into Christmas on a nine-game winning streak after knocking off Downers Grove South 51-31 on Dec. 17.
Visiting Downers North (9-1), which defeated Proviso West 68-36 on Dec. 16, jumped out to a 22-4 lead after the first eight minutes and never looked back.
Jack Stanton made three 3-pointers in the first period and finished with a game-high 17 points.
“That start definitely gets our confidence up and their confidence down,” said Stanton, who scored 13 points in the first quarter. “They already feel like they’ve lost after that first quarter. We were rebounding really well, making them turn the ball over and hustling, too. It was a good team win.”
Ethan Thulin, who had 10 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Trojans increased the margin to 33-15 by halftime.
“I think the big thing has been our chemistry,” said Stanton, when asked what has been clicking during the winning streak. “We’ve been playing together since last year. It’s basically the same exact team except we are missing the couple seniors from last year. We are a tight team and we know the playbook well. We know our offense and defense well.”
Jacob Bozeman contributed eight points and two steals, and Jake Riemer had seven points and five rebounds.
The visitors held the Mustangs (3-7) to 11 field goals in the game.
“We just fit together as a team,” Bozeman said. “The first thing we do when we step on the court in practice is work on our defense. That leads to better shots in transition. And it helps us win because it does lead to better shots overall.
“We just talked about it in the locker room, it’s awesome to start off 9-1. We lost our first one, but bounced back to go 9-0. We also talked about how we don’t want to settle. Instead, we want to build off this and show what we are about.”
Downers North began last week with a 64-40 win over Hersey on Dec. 13.
“I thought we did a really good job rebounding,” Downers North coach Jim Thomas said. “I thought clearing the boards led to us being pretty efficient in transition. And we have a very deep team. You almost feel bad for our bench. They are sitting there and any other year, they are probably playing 20 to 25 minutes.
“It’s a great start. We called this the first period of the year. Next up is the Christmas tournament, and then in January, you get the rat race of the season. So far everything the guys did in the offseason has paid off.”
Downers South, which knocked off Willowbrook on Dec. 16, saw its three-game winning streak snapped. Justin Sveiteris and Daniel Laurich finished with seven points apiece.
“Jimmy does a fantastic job,” Downers South coach Zach Miller said in complimenting his counterpart. “We talked to our guys about trying to match the level they were going to play at. That’s what they do – they play super, super hard at both ends and that’s what they did from the get-go.
“They pressured us and they executed. Our guys weren’t able to adjust to that level of intensity. We have to be able to make adjustments and do things we want to do.”