ST. CHARLES – The paint was not an inviting place for the Batavia boys basketball team on Friday night at St. Charles North.
The North Stars' big, burly bodies on the interior dissuaded the Bulldogs from attacking with any regularity, and Batavia's outside game was not near enough as North ripped the Bulldogs, 70-49, for an Upstate Eight Conference River victory.
"You saw it tonight, they don't really want to drive against Chase (Gianacakos), Garrett (Johnson) and [Camden Cotter] because they're just huge," said North junior forward Jack Callaghan, a rugged player himself. "If they go up, they're going to get fouled, and it's going to hurt. We like it when teams settle for jumpers. Every time someone takes a 3, we consider that a W for us with that possession."
Batavia made only five field goals in the first half, and three of those came from beyond the 3-point arc. North led, 31-16, at halftime, and was in control the entire night.
The North Stars (6-3, 3-1 Upstate Eight Conference River) are playing lots of zone defense this season, successfully for the most part.
"We tell these guys, if we can force a contested jumpshot, not give up the lane and hold them to one shot, go have fun on offense and do what you want to do," North coach Tom Poulin said. "We've got some ideas and some concepts of what we want to do offensively, but they play so well together, I would almost hold them back by making them do certain things."
North's muscle advantage also showed itself on the glass, as the North Stars out-rebounded Batavia, 36-22. Callaghan led the way with 13 rebounds to go with 14 points.
"When we've won a game, we've dominated the glass," Poulin said. "When we've lost, it's been really close, other than the North Lawndale game. That was the one game where we got out-rebounded but won. Every other game, it's kind of gone hand-in-hand with the victory."
In addition to being mindful of North's daunting front line, Batavia also might have entered the gymnasium with a perimeter mindset based on canning 13 3-pointers its last time out, a narrow loss to UEC River-leading Larkin.
The Bulldogs managed seven 3-point makes on Friday but showed little offensive diversity.
"Those bigs [for North] are good but what I thought we could have done a little more is maybe get to the free throw line a little more because we were getting some fouls on them," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "In order to be successful we've got to have a mixture of inside and out, and I think we had a tough time staying with inside. You get down, you panic a little bit."
The loss was the fifth in a row for Batavia (2-6, 0-3 UEC River), which will head back to St. Charles tonight for a conference matchup at East.
Senior guard Alec Goetz scored 18 points to pace North, which also received double-digit contributions from Callaghan and junior guard Jake Ludwig (10).
Batavia junior forward Chasen Peez led the Bulldogs with 15 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Micah Coffey contributed 12 second-half points for the visitors.
The lopsided win was a nice confidence boost for North as the North Stars prepare for the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament next week. The North Stars have to feel especially good about the way they're protecting the rim defensively.
"Even if you get by us, you're going to have to go over or around one of those big guys," Poulin said. "It happens sometimes, but I think more often than not, the result is in our favor."