||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Jayquan Lee (4) of West Aurora shoots over Pasquale Fiduccia (10) and Ryan Storto (14) of Glenbard North. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Heading into the fourth quarter, West Aurora had a precarious lead over a Glenbard North squad which had rallied to stay in the game all evening.
Then the vaunted Blackhawks defense kicked in. Panther turnovers on three straight half-court traps fueled an 11-0 run that propelled West to a 75-59 victory.
The No. 13 Blackhawks improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the DuPage Valley Conference with the victory. They never trailed, but had trouble putting distance between themselves and the Panthers.
After Glenbard North scored the final five points of the third quarter to pull within 47-43, West Aurora finally kicked in another gear and established control. Josh McAuley, who had a monster game, got things going with a putback. Spencer Thomas then scored on a fast-break feed from Jontrel Walker.
Then the Blackhawk applied the clamps, in the form of half-court traps that yielded three straight turnovers. Steals by Walker (two) and Roland Griffin led directly to a three-point play by Walker, two Walker free throws, and two more foul shots by Jayquan Lee. In the span of a little over two minutes, West Aurora turned a nailbiter into a comfortable win.
“We picked up the defensive intensity,” said Walker. “We kept talking to each other. The coaches told us to keep playing hard and playing aware, and that’s what we focused on.”
Walker was instrumental in his team’s success. The 6-foot junior, the area’s leading scorer at 22 points per game, improved on that average with a game-high 27 points. He added five assists and had three steals.
More importantly, the point guard had a lot to do with West Aurora only committing five turnovers against an aggressive Panthers defense. The Blackhawks did not give up the ball in the second and fourth quarters.
On the inside, McAuley was unstoppable at times. The 6-7 senior had 16 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocked shots, and his defensive presence prevented Glenbard North (2-4 overall, 1-2 DVC) from penetrating the lane.
“I’ve told Josh that there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be getting double-doubles,” said West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman. “He’s got it all, if he could just turn his motor on all the time.”
McAuley was even feeling it from the outside in the first quarter, when he connected on a pair of three-pointers.
“When I was younger, I was a guard and I used to shoot threes all the time,” said McAuley. “Coach (Kerkman) gave me permission to shoot them, so I did. With Juwan (Starks) not here, I knew I had to take more leadership offensively.”
“We knew (McAuley) could shoot, but we sure weren’t expecting that,” said Glenbard North coach Joe Larson of McAuley’s outside marksmanship. “And Walker is a heck of a player.”
After a tentative 10-of-30 shooting effort in the first half (31-30 Blackhawks lead), West Aurora turned it around in the second half by hitting 17-of-28 shots from the field. The Blackhawks scored on 14 of their 15 possessions in the final stanza.
“We were a little sluggish in the first half, especially not boxing out on rebounds,” said Kerkman. “But Josh and really all our guys turned it up as the game went on.”
Lee and Spencer Thomas each had 10 points for West.
Chavares Flanigan had 13 points and Justin Jackson had 10 for the Panthers.