Boys Basketball: Central takes third at Wheeling
By Jon Kerr For Sun-Times Media December 29, 2012 10:24PM
Naperville Central did not defend its crown in this season’s Wheeling Hardwood Classic. But it did snatch the best consolation prize: third place.
Led by the all-around strong play of Mike Blaszczyk, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals, the Redhawks cruised to a comfortable 61-54 victory over St. Viator Saturday night.
“I thought our defense was solid. Our kids gutted it out,” Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. “Offensively, I thought we shared the ball, we moved the ball. That’s how we play.”
Taking advantage of seven first half Naperville Central turnovers, St. Viator was able to push its offense in transition. When junior Ogre Arogundade (13 points) scored with five minutes remaining in the half, the Lions led 19-15. Naperville Central (9-4) began to protect the basketball and crash down on the Lions shooters, finishing the half on a 12-2 run and grabbing a 27-20 lead at the break.
Then early in the third quarter, Blaszczyk, playing out of position at power forward from his normal small forward position, took over the game. In a decisive 6-0 Redhawks run, the 6-foot-3 senior scored all six points. His three-point shot from a kick out pass from senior Nicky Lopez gave Naperville Central a 39-25 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter. The Redhawks never trailed by less than seven points the rest of the game.
“They played tough, we played tough. I tried to rebound as much as I could today because I started at the power forward position,” Blaszczyk said. “They went small, so we went small.”
Lopez added 13 points for Naperville Central. Senior Patrick Martin led the Lions with 22 points, including 16 in the second half.