AURORA – At the conclusion of a successful summer campaign, Joe Larson expressed a belief that his Glenbard North boys basketball team could challenge for a conference title.
Now, many months later, the Panthers have proven their head coach right.
Coming off an 83-81 victory at West Aurora last Friday, Glenbard North enters tonight’s matchup with Naperville Central in a three-way tie for the top spot in the DuPage Valley Conference with the Blackhawks and the Redhawks.
The Panthers travel to Wheaton Warrenville South tomorrow before wrapping up league play at home on Wednesday against Wheaton North.
“We’ve put it in our hands being tied now,” Larson said.
Glenbard North beat Naperville Central 62-61 back on Jan. 11 as Chip Flanigan made a 3-pointer as time expired.
“It’s going to be another great ballgame,” Larson said. “They are very good. They’ve got size on the inside and guards who can shoot on the outside. We will have our hands full defensively, and hopefully they are saying the same thing about us.
“Defensive rebounding will be really big. They have two bigs who can really crash the boards. It’s going to be a possession-by-possession game, every possession will count.”
The Panthers should be flying high after earning a rare win at West Aurora, where the Blackhawks have proven hard to beat.
The Panthers were on fire from the perimeter, knocking down 13 3-pointers, including six from Jeremiah Fleming. The visitors held a double-digit lead for much of the contest before the Blackhawks came back late.
“I can’t say enough about how our guys played,” Larson said. “Going into that place and coming away with a win was big. It gives us a chance for a conference title.
“I thought offensively, all night we played really well. We got good shots every time down [the floor], just about. We hit a ton of threes, and on every one of them, I think there was an assist. I’m real proud of [our players].”
Flanigan and Fleming shared team-high scoring honors with 24 points apiece. Pasquale Fiduccia tossed in 13 points, Justin Jackson scored 12 and Kendall Holbert finished with seven.
“That’s a lot of points for a regulation game,” Larson said. “We were pretty balanced. It was a team effort and that’s the way we play. It is a very unselfish group. We have contributions coming from everywhere.”