Salazar achieves rare air

Dylan Budd, Sports Writer

North’s girl’s varsity basketball team defeated the Romeoville Spartans at home 68-63 on Jan. 13. The win gave the team a 14-8 record and maintained their first-place spot in the conference. 

Led by head coach Michaela Reedy, the Tigers came out early, winning the tip-off to set up an easy layup by sophomore guard Sydney Scott just three seconds into the contest. A jumper by sophomore guard Anaya Patterson and a layup by senior guard Lexi Salazar gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead after two minutes of play.

“Coming into this game, Coach had some things she wanted to implement, and I think we executed them really well tonight,” Salazar said.

The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as the Spartans fought back with a run of their own, heavily assisted by 10 of Romeoville junior Laila Houseworth’s 36 points on the night. When the first quarter ended, the score was tied at 18.  The second quarter was close as well, with the biggest lead at just three points as the Tigers lead 31-28 at halftime.

“I think we struggled a little bit defensively to do what we planned,” Reedy said. “We had some ideas that we thought would work as individuals, but when we came together, we were able to fix the problems.”

The third quarter saw the Tigers break away, starting with a deep Salazar triple, and North never looked back, notching a 12-point lead to close out the quarter. After a Spartan comeback ran out of time, the horn sounded with a 68-63 Tiger advantage.

“We played some really good teams in the [State Farm Holiday Classic] Christmas tournament, and went 1-3,” Salazar said. “But, playing that level of competition and then coming back with it will set us up for success for the rest of the season.”

After the home win against Romeoville, the Tigers continued their win streak against Willowbrook, Oswego East, Plainfield Central, Joliet West….NOT DONE YET

“I think we come out on the court and do what we have to do, whether it works or not,” Gruber said. “It shows our determination coming into each game, and that we’re a team to be reckoned with.”

Salazar, who had 23 points against the Spartans, recently achieved rare air in North history. In the Christmas tournament, she passed 1,000 points in her career, becoming the third player  to do so in program history.

“My time with [Salazar] has been quite a ride,” sophomore forward Bella Gruber said. “She puts a lot of trust into each of us, and we put a lot into her. Her basketball IQ is so strong, and it helps us grow too. Not many people realize how cerebral of a player she is.”

Scott agrees with her teammate, citing the leadership that makes Salazar a captain.

“Having her last year as a freshman on varsity and being able to play with her since is a really big part of her being a captain and a leader,” Scott said, “She’s one of those people that will tell you honestly what you need to do, and she’s someone I can always rely on because she’s a very strong player and an even stronger leader. I’m very lucky to be able to play with her.”

Nick Powell
Nick Powell
Nick Powell
Nick Powell