North Boys Basketball Christmas Recap


Caden Brannan, Reporter

North had a rough start to the conference season as they went 2-4 before Christmas break, but they had a chance to turn things around at their Christmas tournament. North travelled to Dekalb to take on Dundee-Crown, Byron, Chicago Schurz and Geneseo. North struggled to find any kind of rhythm throughout the tournament and finished 1-3.

They opened up the tournament against Dundee-Crown, who was 5-3 at the time. It was  a back and forth game throughout the first half as neither team got up by more than nine points. North had another slow first half as they went into halftime down 27-18, the main reason they were still in the game was because of Anthony Espenson’s(‘20) scoring. Espenson ended the game with 15 points. The second half didn’t go according to plan, North continued to struggle and went into the fourth quarter down 47-32. Both teams pulled their starters early in the fourth and North ended up losing 64-39.

North was looking to have a bounce back game against Byron after dropping the previous game. North started off quick on offense and jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter. And the second quarter was more of the same, North built the lead to 25-10 behind Anthony Espenson’s 16 points. North continued to dominate in the second half and stretched the lead to 41-11 before they pulled their starters and ended up winning 45-22.

After the win against Byron, North took on Chicago Schurz for a chance to get into the consolation championship. North got off to a good start in the first quarter as they got up 12-9 going into the second quarter. The lead was built on timely baskets from Donavyn Sayles(‘22), who ended with 11 points, and Anthony Espenson, who ended with 13 points. In the second quarter, Schurz went on a 12-6 run and North went into halftime down 21-18. North was unable to score with Schurz in the second half, they gave up 32 points in the second half. Between missed shots and turnovers, North was unable to score enough to take the lead. North eventually fell short 53-41.

With one game left North wanted to leave the tournament on a good note, but they knew they were going to be tested by a Geneseo team that had one of the best players in the state. Isaiah Rivera(‘20), a 6’5” 190lb point guard, had committed to Colorado State after receiving offers from the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois. Rivera had the ability to control the game in almost every way imaginable. North knew that they would have their hands full with such a dynamic player and to start the game it was back and forth, but they were unable to slow down Rivera. After a couple of defensive changes Josh Tripplett(‘20), who had just began suiting up for games because of a previous injury, was in charge of slowing down Rivera. Tripplett’s defense allowed North to slow down Rivera and scoring from Anthony Espenson and Zach Reidenbach(‘20) kept North within reach. It was a very close game with neither team getting up by more than six points until midway through the third quarter when Geneseo stretched the lead to 11. North wasn’t able to score consistently to make a run and eventually fell short 50-39. 

North hopes to learn from these games and they want these to be building blocks for the postseason.