Naperville Central rallies past Naperville North
James Jopes used to be tired by the time the second half arrived.
Now that's when he's thriving.
The Naperville Central junior scored all 15 of his points in the second half as the Redhawks rallied past Naperville North, 47-41, on Friday night in DVC action.
"I used to be really tired going into the second half, and the first couple of games I was really struggling and working really hard on it and getting my breath during halftime," he said. "I guess my conditioning is getting better."
The Redhawks needed to rally as the Huskies took it to them to close out the first half, scoring the final 11 points to take 24-16 lead.
An acrobatic reverse layup from Liam Kim allowed the Huskies to extend their lead to double digits in the opening minute of the third quarter, but the Redhawks responded with a 10-0 run, tying the game for the first time at 26-26 on a Jopes 3-pointer midway through the third quarter.
"I thought they were tougher than us in the second quarter," Redhawks coach Pete Kramer said. "I thought we were tougher in the second half and I thought our offense, how we moved the ball, was outstanding."
It needed to be according to Naperville Central senior Kyle Baskin who was a presence inside on both ends of the floor, collecting 8 rebounds and chipping in with 6 points.
"They're really good on defense and definitely one of the best defensive teams we've played," he said. "We had to keep moving the ball and using ball fakes."
They also had to find the open man and the hot hand in a game that featured 3 ties and 7 lead changes.
Jopes was their go-to guy in the second half and his final 3-pointer of the night, from way downtown with 4:56 left to play, gave the Redhawks the lead for good at 36-33.
"I just saw a little opening when we were swinging the ball and as soon as I caught it, I was thinking I had made two, maybe I could hit another," he said. "It was deep, too, and I didn't realize until I let it go. I had my legs under it, got everything off and luckily it went in.
"I think I would've been in a little trouble if I missed that one, it was a little far."
Aidan Kramer also scored 15 points and Mantas Zilys added 8 points.
Kramer and Baskin never left the floor.
"I think those two kind of feed off of each other and it's a unique thing because you don't have it very often," Pete Kramer said. "We asked (Baskin) and (Kramer) to play inside and outside and they don't complain. They just do what they do and they just want to win games."
Grant Johnson and Zeke Williams led the Huskies with 11 and 10 points respectively, but only 4 of the 21 came in the second half. Kim added 9 points.
"It was one of those games where it was low scoring and a basket felt like it was double," Aidan Kramer said. "We preached getting defensive rebounds and not allowing second chance points and taking care of the ball and limiting them in transition. I think we did a really good job of that."
The Redhawks, who lost to the Huskies 57-49 just over two weeks ago, made 15-of-16 free throws.