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ND’s defense stops Naperville Central
By Greg Swiderski | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 12/29/2012 12:10 AM

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Notre Dame’s Anthony Serrano didn’t score much, but he sure was the dominant force in the Dons’ 47-40 victory over Naperville Central in a championship bracket semifinal win at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic on Friday night.

The Dons (12-1) meet Niles North for the championship tonight at 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

Serrano only scored 2 points, but they came at a key time. And he dominated on the defensive end, finishing with 12 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

The 6-foot-4 senior forward helped bottle up Redhawks 6-9 center Nick Czarnowski, limiting him to 8 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field.

“I did my job, and everyone else did their job on defense,” said Serrano. “I brought some sound defense and I stayed within myself. We had watched our game tape against Carmel from the previous night and we saw we played outside of ourselves. We grouped back together tonight.”

“Physically, they took us hostage,” said Naperville coach Pete Kramer. “They made us take shots down the stretch that we didn’t want to take. We didn’t execute well because of their defense. Late in the game instead of playing as a team we played as individuals. It’s the first time it has happened this year.”

Nick Lopez led the Redhawks (8-4) with 13 points through the first three quarters but had none in the fourth. Ryan Anthony followed with 8 points.

Naperville Central played nip and tuck with Dons and took its last lead at 36-35 with 6:58 left in the game on Czarnowski’s 2 free throws.

Duante Stephens, who led the Dons with 17 points and 6 rebounds, tied the game with a free throw. Moments later he scored on a assist from Serrano. Stephens hit for another free throw before Anthony made 2 free throws.

Matt Mooney (15 points) scored for the Dons, and Serrano followed with a steal and score. Jake Maestrani connected for 2 free throws and the Redhawks could not recover as they trailed 45-38 with 1:05 remaining.

“We knew that to beat Naperville Central we had to keep the ball out of the middle,” said Notre Dame coach Tom Les. “Eddie is a blue-collar guy. He can control a game and not score. He did a great job defensing the big kid.”

The Redhawks will try to take third-place honors in a 7:15 p.m. game against St. Viator.