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East Aurora's Tyshee Towner, left, and South Elgin's Amanda Behles battle for possession at East Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Basketball teams that run up against East Aurora’s girls this season invariably come away surprised, if not beaten. The perennial doormat Tomcats have risen on the shoulders of three seniors:Tyshee Towner, Brandi McAllister and 6-foot-1 center Desiree Rhodes.
West Aurora found this out Tuesday, and Thursday night South Elgin discovered it in a 56-46 victory by East in an Upstate Eight Valley game.
“I think it’s because as a team we’ve matured,” said Towner, who scored 25 points against South Elgin just one game after she had an injury scare during the celebration following the victory over rival West. “We mature more and more every game. My teammates help me and I learn from them and they learn from me.”
East is now 6-6 on the year and 3-3 in the conference.
“People come in and are surprised, like ‘Did we just lose to East Aurora?’ Yes,” said Towner. “Because we’re maturing and you’re not. You left on the concept that we’re East Aurora and you’re going to come back and beat us again but we’re maturing and you’re staying immature.”
The Tomcats dominated from the start behind Rhodes’ long arm. She blocked six shots and influenced numerous others. She also had nine points and nine boards.
“Desiree stepped up,” East coach Bill Anderson said. “She alters shots, she made a great block on the perimeter. She’s been going through the progression. A lot is expected of her and she knows it.”
McAllister scored 19 points and she and Towner had eight rebounds apiece as they crashed the boards to help out Rhodes.
East Aurora came out fast, outscoring South Elgin 20-5 in the first quarter as McAllister had 11 of her points.
The Tomcats hit 18-of-44 from the field for the game (41 percent) while holding South Elgin (7-5, 2-2) to 28 percent (17-of-61). A 1-for-14 start from the field in the first quarter left South Elgin in a hole from which it never escaped.
“We’re not a very good team,” South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast said. “We’re 7-5 but all of our wins are against teams with a win or two. It’s a total mirage.
“So I’m not surprised we got beat by these guys.”
East never let up, although South Elgin did get within six in the third quarter before a 12-2 run padded the lead. Towner had 10 points during that stretch. In the fourth quarter, South Elgin’s Anna Tracy made two of her three three-pointers on the night and the Storm got back within seven, but no closer as East put it away by making 7-of-10 fourth quarter free throws.
“We’re not very big,” said Prendergast, whose team is waiting for the Jan. 10 return of star guard Savanah Uveges from knee rehab. “If we play a team that’s got a big like East Aurora or Bartlett, we struggle.”
For East, it’s full speed ahead into the Oswego East tournament, and the Tomcats will have Towner entirely healthy after the scare in the celebration following the 42-41 win over West Aurora.
“She just got shaken up in the pandemonium on the floor,” Anderson said. “She learned a valuable lesson: to run off the floor after the game like Larry Bird.”