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Naperville North disappoints in defeat
By Eddie Burns | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 12/26/2012 10:48 PM

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The fact Naperville North lost to Riverside-Brookfield had Huskies coach Jeff Powers in a foul mood, but it was how the Huskies went down in defeat that really upset him.

The Bulldogs knocked down 11 3-pointers en route to a 79-70 win on Wednesday evening against the Huskies in an opening-round contest of the 39th annual Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York in Elmhurst.

Naperville North led by a point at halftime, but Riverside-Brookfield came out and scored 27 points in the third quarter thanks to making 11 of 15 shots, including six 3-pointers, to take a 57-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“To their credit they shot the ball well,” said Powers about Riverside-Brookfield’s 10 of 21 3-point shooting effort, “but not to our credit, we didn’t get close to them. I could have probably made some of those open looks. We didn’t play any defense.”

Riverside-Brookfield guard Damonta Henry tallied a game-high 23 points. All six of Henry’s field goals were 3-pointers, as the Bulldogs maintained their advantage during the final quarter and never allowed the Huskies to come closer than four points. The Bulldogs, who have won six straight, helped their cause by connecting on 15 of 21 free throws in the final quarter.

“(Naperville North) did a good job of throwing a lot of different defensive looks at us, we knew that we’d have to hit some shots to get them out of their zones, and we did that,” Henry said.

Riverside-Brookfield junior forward Jack VandeMerkt added 21 points while center Miki Ljuboja, who stands 6-foot-8, added 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

“Any time you have three guys with 20 or more points, it is a good offensive night,” Riverside-Brookfield coach Tom McCloskey said. “(VandeMerkt) hit some big shots, played some defense, blocked some shots, Miki played well inside and Damonta had a big game. We had a huge third quarter. It was one of those nights where they wanted to focus on Miki and fortunately some our guys got some good looks and knocked them down.”

The Huskies, who were shorter than the Bulldogs (9-3) at just about every position, used a variety of defensive looks to help keep the game at their pace in the early stages. Naperville North (7-4) went on a 10-0 run to take a 24-16 lead midway through the second quarter, only to give it back in less than 75 seconds.

“We had an 8-point lead and then we decided to go 1-on-1 on offense and three possessions in a row — we had terrible possessions,” Powers said. “We let them come right back into the game after we had taken an 8-point lead. That was pretty disappointing.”

Anthony Rehayem’s 17 points led the Huskies with teammates Derek Westman and Brendan Herbstritt each scoring 14 points apiece with Bryan LoLordo adding 11.

The two teams continue in the tournament today with Naperville North meeting Kenwood at 4:30 p.m. while Riverside-Brookfield plays Palatine at 7:30 p.m.