There’s only one thing better than beating West Aurora on a Friday night.
That’s beating Naperville Central on a Saturday.
Naperville North wrapped up an epic DuPage Valley Conference weekend by topping their visiting cross-town rivals 52-48. Less than 24 hours after upsetting West Aurora on the road, the Huskies (19-7, 9-4) still had plenty of energy to pull off the weekend sweep.
Energy aside, there was no chance at a letdown.
“It’s Central, you’ve got to be ready for Central,” said Huskies senior Derek Westman, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the pivotal fourth quarter. “We love the matchup, it’s a great rivalry. Hopefully, this will carry on into regionals and sectionals.”
Naperville North looked in control after an 11-0 run put the Huskies ahead 41-33 a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter. Naperville Central (16-9, 9-4) stormed back behind a pair of Nick Czarnowski baskets, a steal and score by Matt Bennett and Mike Blaszczyk’s 3-pointer.
Following the Redhawks’ 9-0 run that put them ahead 42-41, Naperville North provided its own answer by closing the game on an 11-6 run in the final three minutes to seal the victory.
Westman scored 6 points down the stretch, including a crucial putback during a scramble for the ball that boosted a 3-point advantage to 5 points.
“Our kids fought back,” said Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer, whose team played without starting guard Ryan Antony in the second half due to a hip injury. “We were down eight and it wasn’t looking good. Down the stretch we just missed some opportunities.”
The teams spent the bulk of the game trading runs, capped by the Huskies’ final run that clinched the victory. The Redhawks had a 10-0 first-quarter burst, followed by a 16-5 run by Naperville North.
Jayson Winick hit three 3-pointers while scoring 14 points off the bench for the Huskies. Anthony Rehayem scored 9 of his 11 points on 3s.
Czarnowski scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for Naperville Central. Rob Suntken and Blaszczyk added 10 apiece.
After splitting two DVC meetings, the rivals could meet again in the Class 4A Benet regional semifinals on Feb. 27 in Lisle. Naperville Central enters the playoffs as a seventh seed and the Huskies as a 10th seed.
“What you’re seeing is a team that was young and inexperienced at the beginning of the year, they’re starting to believe in each other,” said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. “They play so stinking hard.”
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