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Wildcats can't keep Redhawks on ropes
By Orrin Schwarz | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/17/2009 12:04 AM

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Each coach said it after Friday's game: West Chicago had Naperville Central "on the ropes" in Naperville.

Naperville Central looked absolutely pinned against those ropes when Northwestern-bound Redhawks forward Drew Crawford picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter with his team down 7 points.

It took a team effort for the Redhawks to escape the ropes and grab a 70-63 DuPage Valley Conference victory.

"Everybody always talks about Crawford, and I know how valuable he is to us, but you saw we came back without Drew tonight," Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. "I thought Dave Mallett really hit some big shots. Joe Rickert came off the bench and hit a couple of big shots inside. Danny Ondik played outstanding all night long."

Ondik and Mallett each nailed four 3-pointers, finishing with 22 and 19 points, respectively, season highs for each senior.

Crawford, who scored 16 and didn't foul out, started the Redhawks' recovery with a bucket before hitting the bench with 1:49 left in the third. That period closed when Ondik drove the lane and dished to Cam Brate for an easy layup and a foul. Brate, whose defense his coach praised, missed the free throw, but Nick Linne grabbed the offensive rebound and passed out to Ondik for a long 3-pointer at the buzzer and a 50-49 Naperville Central lead heading into the final eight minutes. The Redhawks (15-1, 6-0) never lost that lead.

"Yeah, that hurts," Wildcats coach Kevin Gimre said of that third-quarter sequence. "It took all the momentum away from us and gave it to them."

Tyler Griffith led the Wildcats (8-10, 2-4) with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Charles Jacques came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers and total 16 points, and Chad Driscoll added 10 points and 12 assists, many to Griffith in the low post. All three Wildcats are juniors.

"Overall it was a good game for us," Gimre said.

But it was better for the Redhawks, who proved something to themselves.

"Drew got in some early foul trouble. We really haven't dealt with that this season," Mallett said. "It feels great. It's something we really haven't felt this season. Moving forward that's something we're going to need in the future definitely."

"It proved to us tonight that we have more than just one player," Ondik added.