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Wheeling- Patrick Burns Deerfield drives the b all up court under heavy Naperville pressure at the 35th Annual Hardwood Classic at Wheeling | Joe Cyga
Naperville Central learned a valuable lesson this summer.
With star big man junior Nick Czarnowski sidelined with a leg injury in June, the Redhawks had to learn how to play without him.
Thursday, that lesson paid dividends. With the 6-foot-9 junior on the bench the entire second quarter with two fouls, the Redhawks outscored Deerfield 18-4, cruising to a 65-46 victory over the Warriors in the quarterfinals of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic.
The tournament’s defending champion, Naperville Central (8-3) came out sluggish against Deerfield (6-6), a surprising first-round winner. When Warriors junior guard Eric Porter drained a three-point shot with 5:45 left in the second quarter, Deerfield led 11-10. With Czarnowski out of the game, Naperville Central relied on the hot shooting of senior guard Nicky Lopez (game-high 16 points) and junior guard Ryan Antony. Lopez drained a three-pointer to give the Redhawks a 14-11 lead. Antony scored seven of his 11 first half points in the second quarter and Naperville Central led 28-15 at the break.
“It’s a big blow when he (Czarnowski) goes out as we don’t have our size,” Lopez said. “We just had to dig deep and we started knocking down shots.”
A three-point shot by senior Mike Blaszczyk swelled the Redhawks’ lead to 44-26 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Deerfield got no closer than 11 points the rest of the game.
Eric Porter led the Warriors with 19 points.