By Chris Johnson


The North Boone boys’ basketball, headed by a strong team of senior leaders, will have to take some hard steps to achieve a good season, as they realize play during their final season of high school basketball.

During the season, it will come down to one or two big plays during a span of a few games that will help shape the final season for many seniors. Moments will stick out more this year.

The Vikings’ seniors include Zac Baden, Joshua Fernandez, and Corvin Nathan. The three players, joined with others, as the winter sports season officially began in an annual classic.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the Vikings faced the 1-0 Warren Warriors during night two of the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Tourney.

For a handful of teams and their senior members, the season-opening tournament provided valuable insight. It provided the opportunity to see how they matched up with other area teams from neighboring conferences.

Pecatonica, Belvidere, South Beloit, Warren, and North Boone all played in the tip-off classic. Game play ran through Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Zac Baden ran the floor. His speed was on display as he found ways to penetrate the Warren defense. Warren grabbed the 2-0 edge, seconds later a pass from Baden to sophomore Josh Hoffman tied the game at two, with 6:30 remaining in the opening period.

Warren won its opening round match against the Belvidere Bucs sophomores in late-game fashion.

With only two seconds remaining, Warren was given the opportunity to shoot two free throws with the game tied at 37. The Warriors hit them both and finished off a double-digit comeback with the win with 1.5 seconds remaining. Warren finished opening night strong and carried it into game two.

North Boone’s defensive plan was circumnavigated minutes later as the Warriors built a five-point lead. The match-up zone was stopping the Warriors passing attack for a while. They found a way around it. North Boone pulled back to within three points, down 7-4 before Warren began to score.

The zone continued to be breached as Warren’s one-shot edge grew to double-digits within minutes. Fouls added up as well. At the start of the second period, Warren was in front 17-4.

The lead grew to 18-6 and 22-6 before the Vikings could right the ship. North Boone kept fighting back. The double-digit lead began to fall to nine and seven and less. Following a time out call with 9.1 seconds to go in the half, North Boone found itself down only six points. 24-18. A little optimism began to slide in for Baden and his sophomore starters.

In the third, the Warren offense was stuffed time-and-again. North Boone kept attacking. With 6:30 to go in the third frame, the Vikings were within four points, 24-20. With 4:09 to go in the period, it remained a four-point lead for Warren, 28-24.

Unfortunately, missed opportunities began to mount for North Boone. The comeback attempt was stalled. Fatigue could have been a factor as Warren began getting inside and to the free throw line as a result.

At the end of the third period, Warren had rebuilt a 15-point edge, 43-28. The Vikings weren’t done yet. Fight remained ever-present for North Boone

With only minutes remaining in the game, the Warriors were in the Vikings’ sights. They still had the 10-point lead, but North Boone had the ball and over two minutes still remained in the game. There just wasn’t enough that could be done. The 10-points would be it. They couldn’t get much closer. Warren’s threes fell and the free throws continued to tally. North Boone lost its season opener 57-43.

Game play at the Pecatonica Thanksgiving Turkey Tourney ran through Tuesday, Nov. 29. Warren, with the 3-0 record heading into the final night of play exited week one as the predicted tournament champion.

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