STREAMWOOD – The St. Charles North boys basketball team is warming up more and more each game to its matchup zone defense.
The North Stars have played matchup zone predominantly this season and it’s treated them well more often than not. It certainly did Thursday as North plowed past Streamwood, 70-27, in Upstate Eight Conference River play.
“When I first came back from my injury last week, it’s like the whole zone evolved from the beginning of the year,” North senior forward Erik Miller said. “It’s just so strong. We close out on shooters well. We take so much pride in that zone. It took me about a week to even catch up to get on everyone’s level because they just keep getting better at it.”
The North Stars haven’t played this much matchup zone in the past but North coach Tom Poulin said the defense gives North a better chance against higher-end teams that might pose matchup problems if North played man-to-man.
Poulin said he reviewed a DVD on the matchup zone run by current George Mason and former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, and sprinkled in some of the principles of the legendary zone run at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim.
“We ran it a little bit last year against Larkin in the regional, and the kids loved it,” Poulin said. “We had it in all last year and we used it now and then, and the returning players really liked playing it.”
North (11-5, 5-1 UEC River) won its fourth game in the past six days, and especially in the past two games, the North Stars’ defense has sparkled.
After holding Bartlett to 36 points in a win Tuesday, North was even stingier Thursday, albeit against the floundering Sabres (1-15, 0-6 UEC River).
The Sabres were scoreless in the third quarter and scored 12 of their 27 points when North was deep into its expansive bench in the fourth quarter.
“We need a bigger hoop, I guess,” Streamwood coach Paul Kowalyszyn said. “I don’t know. We had good looks. Missing layups and everything. I told the kids at halftime, I don’t know what else I can tell you. You’re in the right spots. You’re getting good looks – you’re either passing them up, fumbling the ball or you’re missing the shots.”
Poulin is intrigued to find out what kind of adjustments teams make against North’s zone in the season’s final weeks.
“Everyone’s done something different in every game – they’ve attacked it differently,” Poulin said. “Now it’s going to be interesting when you see people for the second time, what they do.”
North made 9 of 14 from 3-point land in the first half, after which it led, 42-15. That was a modest lead compared to the 37-6 bulge at the 2:40 mark of the second quarter after a Camden Cotter 3-pointer.
The North Stars connected on 13 3-pointers for the game, including a 4-for-5 showing beyond the arc for senior Alec Goetz (team-high 12 points). Miller (11) and reserve guard Nathan Didier (eight) were also among the 13 North Stars to score in the game.
North’s fifth game in eight days will be its most anticipated as the North Stars seek a regular season sweep against crosstown rival St. Charles East on Saturday night at East.
“We have to have our best performance on both ends of the floor,” Poulin said. “It’s not just going to be defense or not just going to be offense. We have to have our best performance to beat them at their place, so we’ll see.”