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St. Joseph didn’t give East Aurora any time to catch its breath during Tuesday’s game at St. Charles East in the 54th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving tournament.
The No. 7 Chargers jumped to a 22-2 lead and never looked back in an 85-41 victory.
Paul Turner and Ronald Lewis led the winners with 15 points each while A.J. Patty and Karriem Simmons each chipped in with 12 points to lead a balanced St. Joseph attack.
“Over the years we’ve always liked to see it more this way,” St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said. “I’d rather have three or four guys in double figures, instead of having one guy be a star.”
East Aurora (0-2) showed some life by answering the 22-2 deficit by going on a 19-10 run. The Tomcats pulled within 32-21 on a DeJon Talbert three-pointer with 3:03 left in the first half.
The Tomcats wouldn’t score again in the first half, though, while the Chargers tallied the next 14 points to take a 46-21 lead with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
“We made a nice run to cut it to 12 (points) but we got into some foul trouble,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “Tyree Willis had three and Jonathan (Villezcas), our only other big guy, had two and was gambling.”
St. Joseph (2-0) held the Tomcats to just two field goals from the 3:03 mark of the second quarter until there was just 1:47 left in the third quarter.
“I think we’re doing some good things defensively,” Pingatore said. “Usually it takes a lot longer to get in the good habits of defense, so I’m happy with that.”
It’s been a tough start for the Tomcats after struggling through a 3-23 campaign last winter. Of course, the competition has been stiff on back-to-back nights too.
“These were two of the better teams in the state so we’re going to learn from it and it’ll make us a better team,” Jeffries said. “This is one of the toughest tournaments in the state and hopefully we can play a whole lot better in our next game.”
KeJuan Davis and Villezcas led the Tomcats with 10 points each.
Both teams resume tournament play on Friday as the Tomcats will meet Schaumburg in the opener at 2:45 p.m., while the Chargers have the 7:45 p.m. nightcap against host St. Charles East.