Naperville Central's boys basketball team shook off the disappointment of Friday's semifinal loss in the Wildcat Hardwood Classic at Wheeling, rolling past Prospect 68-48 Saturday to claim the tournament's third-place trophy.
The Redhawks (8-4) started with a bang and rarely let up. Taylor Zelinski hit three 3-point baskets in the first quarter to spark his team to a 23-9 lead over the short-handed Knights (8-6). Zelinski scored 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter. Prospect leading scorer Bobby Frasco was best man at a wedding and was not in uniform for Prospect.
This is the third Hardwood Classic in a row in which the Redhawks finished with a victory to bring home a trophy. They won the tournament in 2011 and finished third last year.
"We wanted to bounce back after last night (Friday)," said four-year starter Nick Czarnowski. "It's a very competitive tournament, and it's good to go out with some hardware."
"I'm proud of the way he bounced back," Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. "I thought we made a more conscious effort to get him the ball.
"Zelinski made a big difference early when he knocked down those 3s, which opened up the inside."
Czarnowski finished with a game-high 18 points and snared 7 rebounds. Patrick Maloney gave the Redhawks 12 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.
"Maloney was great on the boards," Kramer said.
The Redhawks led 38-21 at halftime and 52-31 after three quarters. The closest Prospect could get in the fourth quarter was 61-46 with 3:35 remaining, but it was outscored 7-2 the rest of the way.
Prospect's Danny Thomas got untracked in the second half, scoring 9 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Kyle Beyak was Prospect's scoring leader with game-high 18 points, and Ernest Kiseliovas came off the bench to score 13 points for the Mid-Suburban East leaders.
"The effort was good, but it was tough without Bob," Prospect coach John Camardella said. "It was tough going against that zone, too. They are a very good team.
"Kyle led us with 18, and he continues to grow and play with more consistency," Camardella said.
The Redhawks were able to execute their offense much better than in their 44-37 loss to Fremd on Friday.
"We're back to basic stuff," Kramer said. "All five guys were scoring, and that's when we're at our best.
"We're a good team, and we had a chance to win the tournament," Kramer said. "Going 3-1 is good."