Naperville Central's nightmare struck Metea Valley.
Taking full advantage of their two-headed post monster of Patrick Maloney and Nick Czarnowski, the Redhawks had little trouble advancing to the Class 4A Naperville Central regional final with Wednesday's 74-49 victory over the Mustangs.
The victory -- keyed by a personal-high 35 points from 6-foot-6 senior forward Patrick Maloney -- sends No. 5 Naperville Central (20-7) into Friday's final to face No. 4 Hinsdale Central (22-6), which beat the Redhawks in mid-December.
In addition to a huge night from Maloney, who scored 14 points during a first-quarter blitz, 6-8 Czarnowski added 14 points. The duo combined for 24 rebounds.
"We kind of knew something like this was coming," said Maloney, whose team beat Metea Valley in the season opener. "We played them earlier in the year and I think I had the first 10 points maybe. They still decided to double Nick, and I was open a lot. Nick found me, the guards found me, and it just happened."
Naperville Central led 21-8 after a quarter and closed the half on a 9-0 run to build a 39-16 advantage at the break.
The Redhawks received a scare midway through the second quarter when third-year starting guard Ryan Antony went down with a knee injury. He returned briefly in the second half, and after the game coach Pete Kramer said Antony likely would be ready to play on Friday.
Nothing, meanwhile, seemed to go right in the first half for the Mustangs (16-13). Two starters were saddled with three fouls while two others had two fouls apiece. Naperville Central out-rebounded Metea Valley 25-6 through two quarters.
"They just kept attacking with their bigs," said Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza. "Obviously, the size hurt us a bit. We didn't score, capitalize a bit, and they just kind of took over from there."
After trading baskets in the third quarter, Metea Valley made a bit of a move in the fourth quarter. An 8-0 run sliced the deficit to 61-44, and a missed 3-pointer nearly narrowed the gap even more.
Naperville Central, though, quickly regained control. Matthew Meier scored 12 points off the bench for the Redhawks while Matt Helwig knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 14 points for Metea Valley.
Bryson Oliver and Marquell Oliver tallied 11 points apiece.
"When we play like that we're an awfully good team," Kramer said. "We're tough to stop."
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