When Rockford Auburn started challenging Naperville Central during opening-night competition Friday of the Benet/Naperville Central Tip-Off Tournament, the Redhawks kept the lines of communication open.
That went a long way in helping Naperville Central fight off a strong Knights team and win 60-52 to go 2-0 on the young season.
"We talk to each other. We make sure everyone knows the offense and defense," said junior Shannon Ryan, who scored a game-high 16 points. "This year we're talking a lot more than last year."
Midway through the second quarter, it appeared the Redhawks would be able to push the cruise control button. Ryan's second 3-point basket of 4 on the night made it 28-7 with 4:46 until halftime. But the Knights (0-1) finished the quarter on an 18-8 run to trail just 36-25.
That big run was fueled by 5-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
"We were very surprised that they did that from what we saw last year. Once we went to man, their 3-pointers slowed down a little bit," said Naperville Central sophomore Cierra Stanciel, who shot for 12 points.
The Knights hit for just two 3-point baskets during the final two quarters.
The Redhawks put some distance between themselves and the Knights in the third quarter, leading 49-31 after that after shooting 5 of 14 from the field while Rockford Auburn hit 2 of 10 with no 3-point baskets.
The Knights went on a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull to within 49-47 with just over four minutes to play.
Stanciel's basket with 3:53 remaining, Naperville Central's first of the period, started an 11-5 run that kept the Redhawks in control.
"We definitely struggled a little bit. We just needed to slow it down to our pace," Stanciel said.
Also scoring in double digits for the Redhawks was Jamie Cuny with 14 points to go with 10 rebounds. Victoria Trowbridge had 9 points and 11 rebounds. Laura Dierking sank 5 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Rockford Auburn was led by Melena Burke and Brianna Davis with 10 points each.
The Redhawks return to their home court today in tournament play with a 7:30 p.m. game against Bartlett.
"We thought we did well. They're a good team and pushed us to the limit," Ryan said.