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Oswego's Danny Mangers tries to protect the ball from Naperville Central's Mike Blaszczyk Monday in the Hoops for Healing Tournament at Oswego High School. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Naperville Central boys basketball coach Pete Kramer expects senior Mike Blaszczyk to take the next step in his development.
In Monday’s solid season-opening win against host Oswego at the Hoops For Healing Tournament, Blaszczyk showed where his development stands.
“I thought Mike was huge tonight,” Kramer said. “That’s what he should be doing. He’s a senior. He’s come a long way.”
Blaszczyk led all scorers with 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had five steals to lead the Redhawks to an impressive 80-66 win.
“Definitely the best game I’ve ever played,” Blaszczyk said. “All the hard work and practice, it feels great. First game of the season, it feels great to start out well.”
Blaszczyk scored five points early on as the Redhawks raced out of the gate with a 23-8 lead in the first quarter. But as expected, Oswego’s talented guard tandem of Elliot McGaughy and Miles Simelton eventually led the Panthers back into the game. McGaughy’s three-point play with 37 seconds left in the first half gave the Panthers a 37-35 lead.
In the third quarter, a lay-up off of a steal from McGaughy tied the game at 53-53. But a crippling 20-4 run that stretched into deep in the fourth quarter put the game away for good for Naperville Central.
“We did a lot of good things,” Kramer said. “We took their knockout punch a couple different times and the kids settled back in. We lost our composure at times, but we regained it, which was neat to see.”
Star junior Nick Czarnowski missed the summer workouts for the Redhawks, but he was able to practice since the season started and he put up 23 points in the win Monday.
“It’s good to see Nick play,” Kramer said. “It was good to have him back in the mix.”
Austin Pauga added 17 in the win for Naperville Central.
Simelton led the Panthers with 23 points and McGaughy added 18, but it was on combined 12-for-31 shooting as the Redhawks made all of their chances difficult.
“Give credit where it’s due, man,” Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said. “They came into our house and punched us in the mouth. We tried to raise the pace. We did that for 12 practices and tonight we settled for long distance shots. If we go back to playing like we practiced, we’ll be all right.”
Oswego gets Metea Valley Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Redhawks will face last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, Proviso East, led by SMU recruit Sterling Brown and Illinois State recruit Paris Lee.
“Proviso East plays similar to Oswego,” Blaszczyk said. “They have very quick guards. We have to handle their pressure. Their man-to-man defense is unbelievable. Their guards are so quick.”