New Trier wins tight battle over Niles North

chi-new-trier-trevians-20140312As the final buzzer sounded, New Trier coach Scott Fricke saw the ball fall short of the rim, turned around, made a fist and with the force of his entire body, pumped it into the air.

That’s how it feels when a young team wins a conference game on the road by two points.

“When a team shoots that well against you and you can overcome it and win, that’s a really good sign,” Fricke said.

New Trier overcame the hot shooting of Jamal Stephenson and Dravon Clayborn to hang onto a 57-55 victory over Niles North Friday night.

Stephenson scored all 18 of his points in the first half and then Clayborn took the baton scoring all 16 of his points in the second half. The two hit a combined seven three-pointers.

Ciaran Brayboy battled foul trouble but still managed a double-double for New Trier with a 14 points and 10 rebounds and Aaron Peltz added 11.

But perhaps the biggest impact of the night came after a scary moment.

In the closing seconds of the first quarter, senior and team captain Dylan Horvitz fell to the floor, re-aggravating an ankle injury he suffered a few weeks before the season started. In came junior Griffin Ryan who scored 13 points, 11 of them coming in the first half.

“Griff really kept us in the game tonight,” Fricke said. “He got to the basket, he finished well, he rebounded and he had a couple big steals at the end of the game. He played really well and that’s what you need, you need guys stepping up.”

The Trevians also got a big performance from junior Andrew Kirkpatrick, who missed the last two weeks with pneumonia.

“I think I’m still recovering, but I felt good enough to go,” Kirkpatrick said after the game, his voice still not fully recovered. “I don’t think I had as much energy as I normally do, but I went as hard as I could.”

He had a game-high 13 assists, second-most in New Trier history. He also scored the Trevians’ final five points, including the free-throws that put them up for good.

There was no update on the status of Horvitz, who was on crutches after the game, but he said he was already able to put some weight on the ankle. It’s still unclear whether he’ll have to miss any time.

New Trier improved their conference record to 2-0, and now prepare for conference rival Evanston High School on Tuesday.