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Naperville Central's Nicky Lopez connects on a three point shot over Naperville North's Jayson Winick on Friday, January 11, 2013, at Naperville Central High School in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Lamenting his team’s execution three days earlier against one area rival, Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer was anxious to see how his team would come out Friday against the program’s biggest.
In light of its loss Tuesday at Waubonsie Valley, motivation against Naperville North didn’t figure to be an issue.
In front of a packed gym and behind three guys scoring in double digits, No. 18 Naperville Central rebounded successfully by coming away with a 68-60 victory over its crosstown rivals in Naperville.
Admitting his junior big man, 6-9 Nick Czarnowski didn’t get the ball enough against the Warriors, Czarnowski led the Redhawks’ charge against the Huskies in recording game-highs in both points and rebounds with 21 and 12, respectively.
“From the get-go, (my teammates) got me the ball. Right away, everyone was scoring. (My teammates) got me the ball,” Czarnowski said. “I looked right back out. When you got three guys (Czarnowski, Nick Lopez and Ryan Antony) that are scoring high numbers like that, it’s tough to stop.”
With Czarnowski operating so efficiently inside, the vast number of perimeter shooters for Naperville Central (11-5, 4-2 DuPage Valley) were able to take advantage.
The Redhawks’ starting backcourt, piloted by the senior, Lopez, and aided by the junior, Antony, combined for 38 points on the night as the Redhawks snapped out of a 1-3 funk against their crosstown rivals, which included getting swept by the Huskies last year as the Huskies eventually took home the DVC crown.
“Last year, [Naperville North] put a bad taste in our mouth,” said Lopez, who scored 20. “We knew we had to come out, play our best ball. [The Huskies] are a scrappy team. But, again, it’s the Huskies. We like beating the Huskies.”
Naperville North trailed by just six points going into halftime but found itself down 15 points heading to the fourth as the trio of Czarnowski, Lopez and Antony were able to keep their collective foot on the accelerator.
“Yeah, we can’t figure it out because against West Aurora [last Saturday], we had a really good third quarter,” Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. “This one, it seemed like we didn’t compete there a little. ... I thought we competed. We didn’t make shots and twice we weren’t supposed to sag off the three-point shooters and we sagged off and [Naperville Central] got two quick threes in a row and then got energy and momentum going.”
Working through six first-half lead changes, the Redhawks played on the lead for much of the first half, leading by as many as nine points in taking a 27-21 lead into halftime.
Czarnowski and Antony combined for 15 of the Redhawks’ first 18 points on the night, while Lopez chipped in with seven points in the first half.
“Those two are just so capable. They’ve played together for so long,” Kramer said of both Czarnowski and Antony. “They’ve been around. I told them that ‘this is like your senior year. Even though you’re juniors, you guys gotta start playing like you’re seniors.’ I can’t say enough about Nick. Nick’s just coming on, getting better and better. Obviously, you can tell he’s healthy.”
Naperville North (11-6, 3-3 DuPage Valley) had three men, senior Derek Westman, freshman Jelani McClain and junior Anthony Rehayem, score in double figures and were led by Westman’s team-high 20 points.