Boys Basketball Crystal Lake Central Tournament

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Boys Basketball Crystal Lake Central Tournament

Caden Brannan, Reporter

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After finalizing their cuts, North now knows who they will be going into the 2019 season with. They will be looking to build off of last years 16-16 record, which broke the school record. And since they will be dropping down to 3A for the postseason, they will be looking to make a run deep into the playoffs. 

And after the way North played in the summer, a deep playoff run is very likely. They went and played some of the best kids and teams in the state over the month of June. They went into the suburbs and played in a tournament at Riverside Brookfield. In that tournament, they played against Loyola Academy, who had two 6’8” twins who are going to Drake and Sienna. North played a tough game but eventually fell just short and lost by eight. And in the next two games they played Lincoln Park, from the Chicago Public League, and Glenbard East. North wrapped up their tournament with a game against defending 4A champions, Evanston. Evanston has two players that have gotten offers from UW-GreenBay and multiple others. The game was back and forth the whole time, but North was unable to close out the game and lost by four.

North is returning almost all of their players from last year’s team, they will be led by returning starters Anthony Espenson(‘20) and Zach Reidenbach(‘20). And they will have key contributions from Matt Bucher(‘20) and Donnavyn Sayles(‘22). They also return Carson Blatchford(‘20), Andre Brown(‘20), Kyle Kaempfer(‘20), Caden Brannan(‘20), Aedan Rowe(‘20) and Jacob Bucher(‘22). They will be missing Josh Tripplett(‘20) and John Carlson(‘20), who both got injured during the football season, for the next couple of months. 

North started their season with a big test, they traveled to Prairie Ridge to play Geneva. Geneva made it to the Super Sectionals last year and lost to East in a close battle. North knew it was going to be a challenge to open up the season against a very successful team. But North started off very strong, holding Geneva to just 10 points in the first quarter. North was in the lead for the majority of the first half because of their defense and partially because of Zach Reidenbach and Carson Blatchford, who both combined for 19 points in the game. North went into halftime up 21-17. That four point difference was the most either team got up until the final minutes of the game. North continued to rely on their defense in the third quarter, but after Geneva was fouled on a layup to end the third, the game was tied up at 31-31. The fourth quarter continued to go back and forth, but North was unable to score when it was needed most and fell short 45-39.

North was looking to rebound from their first loss of the season with a game against Prairie Ridge. North jumped out quickly to a 9-2 lead after baskets from Anthony Espenson, Matt Bucher, Zach Reidenbach, and Carson Blatchford. But Prairie Ridge got going on offense in the second quarter to close the lead to 22-18 at halftime. North was able to regain control of the game in the third quarter mainly because of Anthony Espenson, who scored 16 points in the game. North extended the lead to 15 points going into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was more of the same and they were able to get their first win of the season, 51-40.

North kept their momentum rolling into their third game of the season, as they played Crystal Lake Central. It was a close first quarter, but North started to pull away in the second because of Anthony Espenson’s scoring. Espenson finished the game with 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. He was able to keep North in control for the majority of the game. The game did get tied up going into the fourth quarter, but contributions from Zach Reidenbach, who added 9 points, and Carson Blatchford, who added 10 points, allowed North to pull away for a 56-47 victory.

Going into the final game of the tournament, North faced off with Mchenry. North got off to an unusually slow start and couldn’t get much going on either end of the floor for them. Similarly to the previous game, Anthony Espenson kept North in the game. But even with Espenson’s scoring, North found themselves in an unusual position, they were down three going into halftime. A different North team came out in the second half and a couple of quick layups by Matt Bucher were able to push North ahead. Behind the 42 points scored by the starting five, 24 of them coming from Espenson, and holding Mchenry to just seven second half points, North took the victory 42-28. 

North going 3-1 this year in the Thanksgiving tournament is the first time a Belvidere North team has achieved that since the school opened. It just adds to the list of broken records that this group of players have accomplished.