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Naperville Central's Austin Pauga rips a rebound away from Hinsdale Central's Rigas Pappas on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at Naperville Central High School in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer has been quick to often point out the resiliency of his team. Coming from behind to beat Benet last month in the Hoops for Healing title game, his Redhawks were at it again on Saturday.
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, Naperville Central snapped a two-game losing streak by emerging with a 69-64 victory in overtime over Hinsdale Central in Naperville.
“We’ve had just an unbelievable stretch of games and they’ve all been like this,” Kramer said. “Just [a] slugfest and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids, the way they handle themselves down the stretch. Things weren’t looking good. We just stuck with it.”
Struggling from the free-throw line for much of regulation, Naperville Central (4-3) did enough from the charity stripe in the extra session as junior guard Ryan Antony converted five of his six attempts from the line in overtime to help seal the win.
“It was frustrating [to keep missing from the line as a team], but you just got to let it go,” said Antony, who finished with 15 points for the Redhawks. “Short-term memory loss. Get the next play going.”
Getting a game-high 21 points from junior Austin Pauga didn’t hurt either, along with timely contributions from Antony and junior center Nick Czarnowski, who added in 12 points and seven rebounds from the post.
“I thought Austin really, really played well back-to-back. He had a big game [Friday] night [against West Aurora],” Kramer said. “He came out and played another big game [Saturday]. Without [senior Mike] Blaszyck, he had to.”
Senior guard Alec Hutcherson led Hinsdale Central (3-3) with a team-high 17 points, including five three-pointers, as the Red Devils led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter.
Following Redhawk junior Matt Bennett’s three-pointer to tie the game at 54-54 with 52 seconds left in regulation, Hinsdale Central had two opportunities to try to win in regulation with under 11 seconds left. But both opportunities failed.
“I thought it was two pretty good teams going at it and it came down to making some plays down the stretch,” Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre said.