Belvidere North Boys Basketball

Caden Brannan, Reporter

Belvidere North Boys Basketball went to Crystal Lake Central for their Thanksgiving tournament as they looked to turn the program around with a strong start, they played Geneva, Prairie Ridge, McHenry, and Barrington. North went 2-2 with wins against Prairie Ridge and McHenry. North had tough losses against Geneva and Barrington, but they had consistent scoring from John Carlson (‘20) and Anthony Espenson (‘20).

“This was a good start to the new season, hopefully we can keep building on these games as the season goes on. I think we showed a lot of good things, hopefully we carry it into conference play,”said Matt Bucher (‘20).

North started their NIC-10 season with a home game against the Harlem Huskies. Harlem is the only team with a first team all conference player returning in the conference, David Williams averaged 15.8 points per game last year as a junior. North knew they would have their hands full with Williams and their senior point guard Treye Tucker. Williams got off to a hot start with eight points in the first half. It was a back and forth game until North received a technical that stretched Harlem’s lead from two to eight points. North tried to battle back but they went into halftime down ten points. Harlem’s leading scorer at half was Williams with 14 points and North’s leading scorer was John Carlson (‘20) with 11 points. North battled back in the second half behind Zach Reidenbachs’ (‘20) and Josh Tripletts’ (‘20) great defense on David Williams and Treye Tucker. Williams was held to only six points in the second half while Tucker was held to only six points in the whole game. North’s John Carlson (‘20) dominated offensively in the second half, the Huskies were unable to stop him as he finished with 21 points. But even with North’s great second half, they were still down by one with Harlem’s Williams shooting a one and one with 30 seconds to go in the game. It was almost a sure thing that Williams was going to make both free throws and force north to hit a three to win. But he missed the first free throw and North came down on offense with a chance to win the game. North’s layup attempt got blocked and they had the ball out underneath their basket with two seconds to go. North called a timeout and drew up their best baseline play. And after a timeout and an accidental buzzer by the scores table, Carson Blatchford (‘20) took the ball out of bounds and hit Anthony Espenson (‘20) underneath the hoop for the game winning layup. North beat Harlem 62-61 for their first home game of the season.

“It was a great first game, we just hope we can keep building on it. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of,”said Anthony Espenson(‘20).

North was looking to ride their momentum into their next game against the Guilford Vikings. Guilford was coming off a tough loss to Boylan and North knew they would be tested by the Vikings. North started off slow as they were down seven to Guilford after the first quarter. North started to work their way back into the game behind great bench play by Matt Bucher (‘20), who ended with 11 points in the game. While North struggled to get anything going on offense they were only down by four at halftime. It was obvious that North had a team of almost all juniors, as they continued to make simple mistakes in the second half. But they were still able to stay in the game because of Anthony Espensons’ (‘20) 13 points. North was unable to make the game any closer than three points in the second half and Guilford stretched the lead to 16 points late in the fourth quarter, North ended up losing 56-42.

After the tough loss to Guilford, North traveled to Freeport for their third conference game of the year. North started off very strong, but turnovers allowed for Freeport to stay in the game. After a poor second quarter, North went into halftime down by one. North had a strong third quarter and they were able to stretch the lead to nine. But North’s turnovers allowed Freeport to get back into the game. With ten seconds left in regulation North had the ball, they were able to get two layups as time expired but neither of them went in. In overtime, North was unable to score and Freeport got their offense going. Freeport scored 17 points during the four minute overtime. North was unable to get anything going and lost 60-50.

North new they were going to have a tough game against a very good East E-rabs team. East was ranked 10th in the state for 4A basketball. North came out strong and played with the E-rabs, John Carlson’s 20 point game allowed North to stay in striking distance. North was only down by ten going into halftime. East stretched the lead to 18 in the third quarter and North was never able to make it closer, North ended up losing 82-55.

After a tough week North headed to play another top conference team, Boylan only had two conference losses on the season. North was able to stay and battle with them, as they went into halftime down by nine. But Boylan was able to pull away from North in the third quarter and North was never able to cut into the lead, North ended up losing 46-67.

North knew they had to make something happen in their next game at Jefferson after losing four games in a row. The game was close the whole first half, North went into halftime down 22-26. North was able to keep it close during the third quarter, but Jefferson stretched their lead to eight during the fourth quarter. North was able to make a comeback behind Anthony Espenson’s (‘20) 17 points and cut the deficit to one with 12 seconds left. Josh Triplett (‘20) got fouled on a rebound with 12 seconds left and went to shoot two free throws. He made the first free throw to tie the game and send it to overtime. Josh Triplett (‘20) also scored the first points of overtime to go up by two. After North stretched the lead to five with only a few minutes left in overtime, they sealed the game behind Zach Reidenbach’s (‘20) free throws. North eventually won the game 62-57 in overtime.   

North will be at Dekalb High School for their Christmas tournament and the will be home against Belvidere on January 5.