Naperville Central looks reinvigorated against Downers Grove North
It may not be official, but Naperville Central is back.
Not official because the Redhawks still aren't healthy, but Tuesday's 56-35 nonconference boys basketball win at Downers Grove North showed how the confidence is growing.
The Redhawks -- turning it around after three straight losses -- beat Naperville North on a buzzer-beater on Friday, and on the heels of Tuesday's performance, they'll look to keep it going this Friday at Neuqua Valley.
"This is another team in our sectional we wanted to beat," said Redhawks 6-foot-10 senior Chris Conway, who had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. "We did a good job being the aggressor. These nonconference games are a little tougher, but it's easier to get up when it's a sectional opponent like this."
Like many teams, Naperville Central (17-8) has been battling roster-wide sickness. Starting point guard Aidan Kramer is out with pneumonia, which has forced leading scorer Cam Dougherty into ball-handling duties.
Once everyone's back in the fold, it'll be interesting to see what happens.
"I think Friday night, battling adversity the way we did, really did a lot for us," said Redhawks coach Pete Kramer. "We just wanted to show well tonight because we're starting to get healthy. We just need to get Aidan back."
Downers North (12-13) stayed close early but poor shooting, including 3 of 20 from 3-point range, allowed the margin to widen. The Trojans were within 16-12 late in the second quarter but the Redhawks unleashed a 14-0 run spanning halftime to build a 30-12 advantage.
After Conway scored 9 points in the first half, Cam Dougherty scored 16 of his 21 points in the third quarter. Kyle Baskin added 9 points and sophomore James Jopes tallied 8 points in his first varsity game.
Nate Demos had 6 points off the bench for the Trojans. Kyle Engstler scored 5 points.
"We're fine," said Trojans coach Jim Thomas, whose team played without Kevin Bozeman because of a concussion. "We keep coming back and having good practices. Our kids expect to win so this won't shake their confidence at all. They may be upset about this one but they're fine."