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Naperville North's Jayson Winick goes for a layup while being defended by Naperville Central's Nick Czarnowski in Naperville on Saturday. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
It may be an overused cliché, but basketball is truly a game of runs.
For Naperville North on Saturday against crosstown rival Naperville Central, it was fortunate enough to be the team to pull off the last one.
Scoring 11 of the game’s last 17 points over the final 3:49, Naperville North engineered a 52-48 victory over the visiting Redhawks.
Tallying 10 of his game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter to help his teammates stave off the Redhawks, Huskies’ senior forward Derek Westman stepped up big, along with teammate Jayson Winick, who finished with 14 points, as well.
“We were lucky to stop them on defense, run out on the fast break, get some easy conversions and pull this game out,” Westman said.
A night after getting a road win at West Aurora for a second straight year, Naperville North (19-7, 9-4 DuPage Valley) responded by outscoring Naperville Central 44-30 in the game’s final three quarters.
While Westman and Winick, who combined to hit seven-of-eight free throws in the fourth quarter, scored 14 points each, junior guard Anthony Rehayem and freshman guard Jelani McClain added 11 and nine points, respectively.
“Well, I think what you’re seeing is you’re seeing a team that was young and inexperienced at the beginning of the year,” Huskies coach Jeff Powers said. “They’re starting to believe in each other. They play so stinking hard.”
After the Huskies rattle off an 8-0 run to take a 41-33 lead in the fourth, Naperville Central (16-9, 9-4) answered with 9-0 run to take the lead back with 3:49 left after a Mike Blaszczyk three-pointer.
But playing the entire second half without their starting point guard in junior Ryan Antony, who may have suffered a hip pointer, proved to be too much to overcome in some ways for the Redhawks.
“Our kids fought back. We were down eight and it wasn’t looking good,” Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. “The kids fought back, hit some big shots. … Down the stretch, we missed some opportunities.”
The two teams combined to hit 11 three-pointers in a first half that ended with the Redhawks leading 28-24.
Naperville Central ended the first quarter on a 13-3 run, highlighted by eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, from senior Rob Suntken.
The Huskies countered by opening the second quarter on a 16-5 run, keyed by four three-pointers, to take a 24-23 lead.
Getting nine first-half points from Rehayem, all coming on three-pointers, and five points from McClain allowed Naperville North to stay within striking distance in the game’s opening 16 minutes.
Junior center Nick Czarnowski led Naperville Central with his 13 points, while Suntken chipped in with 10.