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Naperville Central executed team basketball to near perfection on Wednesday in the opening round of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic.
The Redhawks put Streamwood down in the first half with hot perimeter shooting, and buried the Sabres in the second half by scoring repeatedly in the paint en route to a 69-44 win. Central advances to play Deerfield on Thursday, while Streamwood will take on Prospect in the losers bracket.
“I thought we played extremely well as a team,” said Central coach Pete Kramer. “We shared the ball and moved the ball well. Defensively, we did a pretty nice job.”
Trailing 4-2 early on, Central went on a quick 11-0 run that included two three-pointers, and headed into the second quarter up 23-8. The Redhawks (7-3) drained a total of six three-pointers in the first half, including four in the first quarter.
Senior Nicky Lopez nailed three first-half threes, helping his team to a 35-19 lead at the break.
“That’s our offense. We like to keep the tempo high and let the game play to us,” said Lopez, who finished with 11 points. “We were tentative early on and passed up some shots and weren’t in our groove, but we found it and ran away with it.”
In the second half, it was 6-foot-9 junior Nick Czarnowski’s turn. The big man scored eight of his game-high 14 points in the third, and also finished with nine rebounds and one block. He scored three of his baskets during a 10-0 run that gave the Redhawks a 55-28 lead late in the third.
“We talked about that at halftime; we said we have our lead, now let’s take advantage of Nick inside,” Kramer said. “He did a nice job of finishing. He had some nice moves in there and even made a hook shot.”
Added Streamwood coach Tim Jones: “We played them when Czarnowski was a sophomore and we’ve seen them play a little so we know how tough they are. You pick your poison — you play the zone and hope they don’t hit their shots and hope we can score a little. We were in the game for a while. We would have been all right if we made some of our shots and made some of our free throws. ”
Ryan Antony (11 points) and Mike Blaszczyk (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring for Central, which shot a blistering 53 percent (27-for-51) from the field and got 19 points from its bench.
Streamwood (4-7) finished 31 percent (14-for-45) shooting and went 14-for-26 from the line. Senior Zach Harris led the Sabres with a team-high 11 points. Vince Williams added nine points and six rebounds.