Naperville Central loses track of Ruggles
Josh Ruggles always seemed to be open in the first half Friday night while wreaking havoc on Naperville Central.
The host Redhawks then tried to focus a little more on the Wheaton Warrenville South sharpshooter in the second half, but the points kept on coming. Seven of Ruggles' second-half points came from the free-throw line while a frustrated Naperville Central could only watch as the Tigers senior kept working toward a season-high 32 points in the visitors' 63-49 DuPage Valley Conference win.
Ruggles burned the Redhawks with 10 points in the second quarter and added 10 more in the third as the visitors turned an 11-10 lead after one quarter into a 50-28 advantage after three quarters of play.
Friday night's hero credited his teammates and a supportive fan section with helping play key roles in the victory.
"My teammates were spotting up, ready to shoot and spacing the floor," he said. "When they're like that it makes it a lot harder to help (defensively) off them. They do a great job of knocking down the open shots and it gives me a lot of space to make moves and to set myself and others up."
Ruggles hit a trio of 3-pointers while tallying 16 points through two quarters. Over the final two quarters he was perfect, making all seven of his foul shots and going 4 for 4 from the floor, including his fourth 3 of the night.
Redhawks coach Pete Kramer felt his team didn't make Ruggles work quite as hard as he would like to have seen.
"I think we contributed to that. We didn't cover him," said Kramer, whose team came into the game off an impressive win over Plainfield East on Tuesday. "He had 16 at the half and that's all we talked about for two days. Know where he is. Make sure you contest him. We let him do whatever he wanted in the first half, and then he was kind of on a roll after that. He's a great shooter."
While the Tigers (9-10, 2-3) were scoring 39 points over the second and third quarters, the Redhawks managed just 18. Kramer even picked up a technical foul in an effort to spark his team and slow the Tigers, who went on a 24-6 run after Matt Meier opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Naperville Central.
To the home team's credit, Meier and his teammates battled back in the fourth quarter to get to as close as 56-45, while Meier led his team with 16 points and Nate Dahl added 13.
WW South coach Mike Healy loves having Ruggles on the offensive end, but he was equally impressed with his team's defense.
"We played well. I thought our kids were really prepared and I thought they executed things at the defensive end," Healy said. "And obviously having Josh have that type of first half lets you relax a little bit. Maybe we relaxed a little too much. But it's nice to have him."
Ruggles added: "I think we're getting more comfortable playing together. Obviously when Will (Granberry) got that dunk, that was big for everybody. It helps that all those fans come to these road games. It's big."