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Big-time players need to play big in the biggest games.
It came in triplicate for Naperville Central's boys basketball team on Friday.
Nick Czarnowski, Nicky Lopez and Ryan Antony combined for 59 points in a 68-60 DuPage Valley Conference victory over visiting Naperville North as the Redhawks began to make up for being swept last season by their cross-town rival.
"When you've got three guys scoring high numbers like that, it's hard to stop," said Czarnowski, who led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds. "They don't know what to do. Everyone was ready to score."
After taking a 6-point lead to the break, Naperville Central (11-5, 4-2) exploded with a 25-point third quarter. It was enough to power the Redhawks to a 16-point advantage as the 6-foot-9 Czarnowski scored 11 post points in the period and Lopez and Antony each knocked down a 3-pointer.
Naperville Central made 9 of 13 attempts from the field and 5 of 6 free throws. Naperville North (11-6, 3-3), which used a pair of timeouts to try halting the run, entered the fourth quarter trailing 52-37.
"Against West Aurora we had a really good third quarter," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "I thought we competed (against Naperville Central). We didn't make shots and twice we weren't supposed to sag off the 3-point shooters. We sagged off and they got two quick 3s in a row, and they got a little energy and momentum going."
The Huskies came alive midway though the fourth quarter, using a 15-4 run to narrow the gap to 63-57 with 39 seconds left after Brendan Herbstritt's 3-pointer. Naperville North took advantage of four straight missed free throws by the Redhawks, who held a 35-15 advantage in attempts from the line.
Antony and Lopez combined for 5-of-6 free-throw shooting in the final 28 seconds to pad the lead.
"Cross-town rivalry against North, that's when we show up and do our best," said Lopez, who made 6 of 8 fourth-quarter free throws en route to 20 points on the night. "Last year put a bad taste in our mouth. We knew we had to come out and play our best ball. They're a good scrappy team but, again, it's the Huskies and we like beating the Huskies."
Derek Westman scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half to lead Naperville North. Freshman guard Jelani McClain added 15 points.
"We just really played great team basketball," said Redhawks coach Pete Kramer. "That's what we do. I'm proud of the kids."
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