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The weight was lifted from the collective shoulders of East Aurora on Saturday as they defeated a taller and defensively aggressive Proviso West squad by a final of 63-50. It was East’s first win of the season, and an impressive one.
Jonathan Villezcas (18 points) had eight of East’s 11 points in the first quarter, hitting three layups, all on assists. The Panthers were held to just six points in the frame.
“My teammates were penetrating, and I was open and just had to finish it,” said Villezcas. “We were thirsty for a win.”
East continued to find the open man in the second, but the focus changed as junior Peetie Davis (game-high 20 points) became the man. His mates found him consistently open on the perimeter, and he drained four treys.
“Words can’t explain how good it feels (to get the first win). Good job from teammate Ray Velazquez who kept penetrating and looking for me,” said Davis. “The team knew I felt it, so they kept feeding me the ball.”
The East zone defense was effective in the second as the Panthers tried to force the ball inside, but were down 39-24 at intermission after the East blitz.
Darnell Hampton and Dominick Roby (team high 14 points) scored from short range for Proviso to begin the second half, but DeJon Talbert knocked in a three, Tyree Willis had a layup, and Davis scored on a layup after the Tomcats controlled the ball for the final 1:30 of the third. East had its biggest lead at 51-34 at quarter’s end.
The Panthers pulled within 11 to start the fourth. But Davis, Willis and Villezcas all scored for a 59-43 advantage, icing the game.
“It was a great win, especially when we were 0 for seven. The kids came out focused tonight,” said East coach Wendell Jeffries. “We needed to hustle more and play together, and we got both of those tonight. We shared the ball and kids started to accept their roles tonight.”