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For three years the DuPage Valley Conference has dreaded facing Naperville Central post player Nick Czarnowski.
This year they also get to dread Patrick Maloney.
The combo again pounded away inside while leading the Redhawks to a 51-34 cross-town victory at Naperville North, their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games.
Six-foot-eight Czarnowski and 6-6 Maloney combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds as Naperville Central (13-5, 5-2) completely dominated the boards and raced to a 15-point halftime lead. Maloney paced the effort with 16 points and 10 rebounds, notching 13 points and 7 rebounds by the break.
"Playing your archrival is really tough, especially on their court," Maloney said. "We knew coming in we had a better record, but these games are always close so I think getting their crowd to silence in the first half was key for us."
Naperville Central played near flawless basketball in the first half: 13-of-18 shooting from the field with only 3 turnovers. The Redhawks' defense limited Naperville North to 6-of-19 shooting and only 1 offensive rebound.
Maloney and Czarnowski pulled down all but one of their team's first-half rebounds.
"We struggled, but I'm going to compliment them," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "They executed very very well. They stuck to their game plan. They beat us up down low, and then they'd kick it out and make the 3s."
Four Redhawks players, including Maloney, knocked down 3-pointers to offer just enough of a perimeter presence. Five players made 3s for Naperville North, but it wasn't near enough to forge a rally.
The Huskies were unable to string together consecutive baskets until Ashton Elston's back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter. By that point, however, Naperville Central already held a 50-21 lead.
Ryan Antony anchored a spirited backcourt effort by the Redhawks, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. Elston and Jelani McClain Jr. scored 7 points apiece for Naperville North.
"Our kids were just ready to go," said Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer. "We're really starting to play good basketball right now. We're playing with a lot of confidence."
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