Naperville Central beats Naperville North for Kramer's 300th victory

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/17/2021 10:34 PM

When you play your cross-town rival, it's usually a good idea to throw out the records.

Nobody sent Naperville Central that memo Friday.


The host Redhawks engaged cruise control en route to a 50-32 boys basketball victory over Naperville North, to earn coach Pete Kramer his 300th win.

Naperville Central used a 10-2 run early in the second quarter and a 12-0 spurt to start the third to improve to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

On the other side of the ball, the Redhawks got 11 rebounds from junior forward Mantas Zilys, who also led all scorers with 15 points. They also outrebounded the Huskies 20-17.

Though Kramer was the man of the hour, he preferred to focus on his team, which had a bevy of stars besides Zilys. Senior point guard Jonah Hinton scored 7 and added 3 rebounds, while senior guard Brad Kuta went 7 and 2.

"I just thought we played really unselfish tonight," Kramer said. "I thought we played hard and I thought our team defense was really, really good. We kept our composure down the stretch and took care of the ball."

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It was Zilys and Hinton who did much of the damage in both runs. Zilys led off the first with a 3-pointer from the right arc with 7:06 remaining in the half. After Zilys hit a jumper from the left corner, Hinton got in on the fun with an NBA-length 3 that gave the Redhawks a 19-12 advantage.

In the second and more pivotal run, Hinton hit from 3-point land with 4:14 to in the third quarter. Zilys followed up with a layup and a pair of free throws to close out that 12-0 run.

What was working during that sequence? Lots.

"Just sharing the ball," Hinton said. "Really, just trusting our teammates were going to be in the right spot at the right time. Moving it, making zone shifts. Being patient. That was the key."

Naperville North played the zone copiously, which would have given most teams fits, but not Naperville Central. According to Hinton, patience really was key.


"Getting it to the middle normally opens things up," he said. "Because once they collapse, that opens things up on the perimeter, drive and kicks, back closeouts."

The Huskies were led by senior guard and Northern Illinois football commit Zeke Williams, who started slow but used the second, third and fourth quarters to amass 13 points and 5 rebounds.

"You know, they went to the box-and-one, and at first it kind of surprised me, so I was kind of letting other people get their shots up," Williams said. "That was a good start, and they heated up a bit, as they started closing on them a bit I started attacking the basket."

An interesting stat: Naperville North beat Naperville Central on points in the paint, 16-12, 10 of which came from Williams. Four came from his sophomore brother, Luke.

"Credit to (the Redhawks), they played a great game," Naperville North coach Gene Nolan said. "They are such a great shooting team, and it's one of the toughest things to defend."

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