PLAINFIELD – While Bob Krahulik hopes to learn more good things about his Plainfield North boys basketball team in the weeks ahead, he’s already seen one quality that he really likes a lot.
And that’s the relentless way that his squad plays defensively, a characteristic that certainly paid dividends for them when they opened both Southwest Prairie Conference play and their home schedule against Plainfield Central on Friday.
The Tigers relied on their defensive pressure during a key stretch of the second quarter where they put together a 13-0 run that effectively put them in control for good as they captured a 49-34 victory over the Wildcats.
“I can’t say enough about our defensive intensity tonight,” Krahulik said. “We really got after it and that made things hard for them. We did a good job on the boards as well and then we looked to push it a little bit after a rebounds. The run in the second quarter was all predicated upon our defense. By either getting turnovers or rebounds, we were pushing it in transition and got some easy buckets. That opened up the game and gave our kids a lot of confidence.
“We battle and don’t give up. We played some tough teams at (Lyons Township) and stayed in there with them, and the scores were a lot closer games than the final. We’re only giving up under 50 points a game, so our defensive intensity is what’s keeping up in games. And the kids really pay attention and try hard to grasp the new offensive that we’re putting in.”
The game was tied at 7 after one quarter, and the Wildcats (2-3, 0-1) trailed, 11-10, early in the second quarter when the Tigers (3-2, 1-0) went on a decisive run to break things open.
Carter Thurman scored six points during the 13-0 burst and collected all 11 of his points during that period. Brady Miller (15 points, eight rebounds) and Adonis Cubas-Hughes (eight points, seven rebounds) both added 3-pointers to help give the hosts a 24-10 lead and they still maintained a 29-16 halftime advantage.
“It’s huge to start off 1-0 in conference and it was good to our first home win,” Miller said.
“They beat us twice last year so we wanted some revenge. We take a lot of pride in our defense and we work on it every day. We’re teammates and we have each other’s backs on defense and good defense can lead to good offense. I like our intensity and our fight and how we never give up.”
Although down by as much as 18 points early in the final half, the Wildcats didn’t give up.
They used a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter to close to within 40-30 with Matthews Morganfield (11 points, 12 rebounds) supplying six of those points before North pulled away.
“Our shot selection was our primary issue, no question,” Wildcats coach Gregg Bayer said.
“If I looked at the average of passes per possession, it couldn’t have been more than two or three and that just doesn’t break down the defense against a good program that plays good, sound defense. If you don’t move the ball, you’re not going to get good shots and fell into the 1-on-16 isolation game instead of trying to make the extra pass and find the open man.
“We have two sophomores playing significant minutes and only one returning varsity guy from last year. We’re a young team and it showed. But it’s still early in the season. I’ve said that I want to be a team that no one wants to draw come regional time. We’ve played good in moments, but we’ve just been inconsistent, and that’s the sign of a young team.”
North also received seven points from Matt O’Boye, while Central also got 11 points from Maurice McCullum and 10 points from Tavari Johnson.
“This was huge because last year we only won one game at home,” O’Boye said. “And it was just a big boost of confidence. At LT, we were a little bit overmatched but I don’t think there’s many teams that we can’t compete with due to our intensity and defensive pressure, which is something we take pride in. I like the pride and intensity that we bring, even in practice. And this year we’re having more fun.”