Boys Basketball: Naperville Central outlasts North in overtime
BY BLAKE BAUMGARTNER For Sun-Times Media February 28, 2013 9:08PM
Naperville North's Derek Westman goes to the basket during their regional game against Naperville Central at Benet in Lisle on Wednesday. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 9:47AM
Digesting his team’s loss at Naperville North 12 days earlier, Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer was quite frank as to the reasons for it.
Failing to get the ball in the hands of their 6-foot-9 center Nick Czarnowski enough in the second half, Kramer was determined not to let that happen again with a third meeting with Naperville North on the docket Thursday night.
Getting to the free-throw line also helps.
Spurred on by getting a game-high 17 points from Czarnowski and getting all 12 of its points in overtime from the charity stripe, seventh-seeded Naperville Central eventually would pull out a 50-43 victory in overtime over 10th-seeded Naperville North in the second semifinal of the Class 4A Benet Regional.
“We knew it was gonna be hard fought. It’s always hard fought against them,” Czarnowski said. “In order to keep that mindset, we couldn’t come out there expecting to win. We couldn’t (get ahead of ourselves). We had to know that there was gonna be a battle. So we went out there and I thought we did a good job. We didn’t give up.”
Missing three free throws in the fourth, including the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left that allowed the Huskies to tie the game at 38-38 on a pair of Jayson Winick free throws, Czarnowski was undeterred, much like the rest of his teammates.
Responding by nailing four free throws in OT to help the Redhawks win their rubber match with the Huskies, Czarnowski ultimately proved to be the difference, just like his coach predicted.
Mike Blaszczyk added 15 points for the Redhawks, with 12 of them coming after halftime.
Naperville Central (18-9) will be looking to win its first regional title since 2009 on Friday night in going up against second-seeded Benet for the third time this season and for the first time in the postseason since 2006.
“Our game plan will change a little bit more against Benet. We’re not gonna pound it like we did (Thursday) night with Nick,” Kramer said. “We’ll have Nick doing some different things. We’re gonna try to just spread them out and use some of our perimeter game.”
Scoring the game’s first points on a three from Rafee Mahmud, the Huskies faced an uphill battle for most of the night as Mahmud’s basket gave them their only lead of the night.
Naperville North (20-9) ended regulation on a 19-11 run to send the game into overtime tied at 38-38 as leading scorer Derek Westman had six of his eight points in the fourth.
“We’ve been in that position many times before, so the feeling (of having to claw your way back) isn’t different,” Huskies senior Bryan LoLordo said. “We know how it is coming back and I think that sometimes it plays out to our benefit coming down because then we can get momentum from coming back.”
But other than that push to end regulation and send the game into overtime, that momentum never really came Naperville North’s way.
Junior guard Anthony Rehayem led the Huskies with 16 points, including hitting on four threes.
“I don’t know if it’s getting over the hump or just … they’re a very good team,” Naperville North coach Jeff Powers said. “Our kids played like warriors. It was a joy to coach them. Just didn’t make enough baskets there. But it wasn’t because of the effort or the energy and that. They really, really gave it all they got.”
Armed by a 15-4 run following Mahmud’s triple to open the game, the Redhawks led by as many as eight points in the first half before seeing the Huskies end it on a 5-0 run to cut the Redhawks’ lead to 15-12 going to the half.