North Boys Basketball Second Round of Conference

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North Boys Basketball Second Round of Conference

Caden Brannan, Reporter

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North hosted Guilford to kick off the second half of conference play. North was looking to have a strong start after finishing with a combined record of 8-13 through the Thanksgiving tournament, Christmas tournament, MLK tournament and the first round of conference.

North knew they had to play a well rounded game on offense and defense to beat the Vikings, who previously beat North 45-39 earlier in the year. North’s defense showed up early in the game with three blocks from Kyle Kaempfer(‘20) in the first quarter. But North’s offense struggled early as they ended the first quarter down 9-3. North was able to turn up their offense in the second quarter, mainly behind Zach Reidenbach(‘20) who led North in scoring with 14 points. North went on a 13-7 run before Guilford hit a three at the buzzer to take the halftime lead 19-16. The third quarter was dominated by North’s defense, they held Guilford scoreless in the third quarter and had the lead 25-19 going into the fourth quarter. Their dominant defense continued into the fourth quarter, it wasn’t until just under four minutes left in the game that Guilford finally scored. North was able to hold North scoreless for almost 14 minutes of game time. Their defense allowed them to run the clock on offense and they eventually won 34-28. 

North’s next game was a home non-conference against Antioch. Antioch started off hot from the three and jumped out early, which put North down 13-8 after the first quarter. But North won the second quarter and cut the halftime lead to 19-18. And in the third quarter, North stretched the lead with a 17 point quarter. They got a scoring boost from Caden Brannan(‘20), who scored nine points in a row for North. With the scoring boost and multiple defensive stops, North went into the fourth quarter up 35-29. North allowed Antioch back into the game in the fourth because of missed free throws, but they were able to close out the game and win 42-39.

Trying to build on the three game win streak, North travelled to Freeport for their next game. They got started quickly on offense with Carson Blatchford’s 17 points in the first quarter, which included five three pointers. North ended the first quarter up 29-19 after Blatchford hit a three at the buzzer to stretch the lead to 10. North kept up the scoring and went into halftime up 41-32. While Freeport went on several runs in the second half, North responded and kept the game out of reach. Anthony Espenson, finished with 21 points, and Blatchford, finished with 25, kept North ahead throughout the second half. North was able to win 66-55 and continue their win streak to four games.

North was looking to keep their momentum going as they hosted East. The first quarter went back and forth but North ended up being down 11-10 at the end of the quarter. But North stepped up their defense in the second quarter and held East to five points in the quarter. This defensive effort gave North the opportunity to go up 22-16 at halftime. North exploded in the third quarter as they went on a 24-9 run behind Anthony Espesnson, who ended with 34 total points. North got up by as much as 21 in the third quarter and kept it going in the fourth quarter until East hit a couple of threes to cut the final score to 55-42. This was only the second time in school history that North had beaten East. 

Trying to extend the win streak to six games, North travelled to Boylan. North started off slow and fell behind 11-6 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter North cut the lead to 19-18 after back to back threes by Carson Blatchford, who ended with 15 points. But Boylan stretched the lead to 29-20 as they went into halftime. North wasn’t able to make any ground in the third quarter and they went into the fourth quarter down 41-30. After having to press and foul, North ended up losing 59-38.

Looking to get back on track, North travelled to Jefferson for one of their biggest games of the season. North jumped out early as they went up 16-10 in the first quarter. During the second quarter, Jefferson got hot from three and North was unable to slow them down. But North’s scoring from Anthony Espenson and Zach Reidenbach allowed them to stay with Jefferson. North went into halftime down 31-30 after the explosive second quarter. The third quarter went back and forth, but eventually Jefferson went up 44-40 going into the fourth quarter. North stayed within striking distance for the majority of the fourth quarter, but after a Jefferson three stretched the lead to nine, North was unable to get any closer and they eventually lost 58-46.

After two tough losses, North hosted Belvidere for their second cross town game of the year. North jumped out early as they went up 11-0 in the first quarter, but they started to go cold in the second quarter and went into halftime only up 21-16. But North got the spark that they needed in the third quarter from Josh Triplett(‘20) and Andre Brown(‘20) as they picked it up on the defensive end. North outscored Belvidere 17-7 in the third quarter and they never looked back. In the fourth quarter, Anthony Espenson capped off his 23 point performance with a couple of layups to end the game. North also got nine points from Kyle Kaempfer which helped them beat Belvidere, 51-33.

After the crosstown victory, North travelled to Auburn for another huge conference game. North started off strong as they got out 10-6 on Auburn in the first quarter. Zach Reidenbach stretched the lead to four after a turn around 15 foot jump shot as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter. The lead went back and forth in the second quarter, but North eventually found themselves down 19-17 at halftime. And North won the third quarter behind Zach Reidenbach, who ended with a game high 15 points. North went into the fourth quarter up 29-27 and the fourth quarter went exactly like the previous three. It was a slow, defensive game and the lead went back and forth between the two teams but North found themselves down 37-35 with 15 seconds left in the game. They gave the ball to the hot hand and let Reidenbach take the ball to the basket, but his layup sat on the front of the rim and eventually fell off. Auburn got a layup to end the game and North lost 39-35.

North hosts Harlem for their final home conference game of the season and their senior night, the game is at 7:30 on February 21.