Naperville Central needs overtime to oust Naperville North
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Ninety-six minutes of basketball couldn't decide cross-town supremacy between Naperville Central and Naperville North.
It took that extra four on Thursday.
Naperville Central pulled out the three-match with a 50-43 overtime win over the Huskies in the Class 4A Benet regional semifinals in Lisle.
After an emotionally and physically draining game the seventh-seeded Redhawks (18-9) must turn around and play No. 2 Benet (25-5) on its own court in Friday's regional final. Like with Naperville North (20-9), Naperville Central split two meetings with Benet in the regular season.
"We're just going to stay focused, try to get some rest tonight and hope for the best (on Friday)," said Redhawks junior center Nick Czarnowski after his game-high 17 points and 5 rebounds. "Playing on heart."
After Jayson Winick knocked down a pair of free throws for Naperville North to tie the game at 38 apiece, teammate Derek Westman blocked a shot at the other end to send the game to overtime.
Naperville Central took control from there behind stunning 12-of-13 free-throw shooting. The Redhawks missed their only field-goal attempt in overtime.
A pair of Bryan LoLordo free throws narrowed the Huskies' deficit to 44-43 with 1:47 left in overtime, and Naperville North quickly got the ball back. Naperville Central took a charge, however, and Matthew Bennett drained a pair of free throws to build the advantage back to 46-43.
Naperville North responded with a missed 3-pointer that resulted in two free throws by the Redhawks' Mike Blaszczyk and a 48-43 lead.
Czarnowski and Blaszczyk each hit 4 free throws in overtime for Naperville Central, which received just a few minutes from injured guard Ryan Antony. Bennett got the start in his place and the junior scored 8 crucial points in the second half and overtime.
"I think we fought real hard, but they're a great team," LoLordo said. "They really just played great basketball in overtime."
Naperville North went seven deep with an extremely short bench and saw Winick and post player Rafee Mahmud foul out in overtime. According to Huskies coach Jeff Powers, starting freshman guard Jelani McClain's mother removed him from the team on Monday for what Powers said were personal reasons.
"Our kids played like warriors, and it was a joy to coach them," Powers said. "It was tough the whole game because we were playing with a small bench, but credit to our kids. They don't die easy."
Naperville North took its only lead of 3-0 on the game's first bucket. The Redhawks then took off despite facing an extremely deliberate Huskies offense and built a 15-7 lead on Rob Suntken's 3-pointer.
Naperville Central led until the Huskies tied it four times in the fourth quarter. Anthony Rehayem paced Naperville North with 16 points.
"Just a typical Naperville Central-Naperville North basketball game," said Redhawks coach Pete Kramer. "Our kids really bounced back. They wanted this game and battled."
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