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Joshua Mcauley of West Aurora shoots a jumper over St. Charles North's Justin Stanko on Friday in Pontiac. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PONTIAC — Spencer Thomas did his job on Friday, and that made everything a lot easier for the rest of West Aurora, as the No. 10 Blackhawks rolled to a 76-52 win over St. Charles North in the quarterfinals of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
Thomas guarded St. Charles North star Quinten Payne, holding him to 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
“Spencer is very tough defender,” West Aurora coach Gordon Kerkman said. “Spencer generally guards the opponent’s top player.”
No other player on the North Stars reached double figures in scoring, a stark contrast to the Blackhawks, who moved the ball well with Jontrel Walker (18 points), Thomas (12 points) and Josh McAuley (12 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) all finding the basket with regularity.
“Their defensive pressure got to us,” St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. “We just didn’t do enough to get [Payne] the ball.”
McAuley continued to be one of the tournament’s breakout players.
“He gets better all the time,” Kerkman said. “I don’t think he had this much confidence las year. I don’t think he’s shown all he can do. He’s a great passer and he can shoot it too.”
St. Charles North shot 20-for-56 from the floor and 7-for-25 from three.
“We’re sharing the ball really well,” Walker said. “We were running the floor and moving the ball.”
West Aurora will face Warren in the semifinals on Saturday. The North Stars move into the fifth place game and will play Peoria Manual at 9 p.m tonight.
On Friday night, St. Charles North bounced back and defeated Peoria Manual 63-60, buoyed by Payne’s 26-point effort. The North Stars erased a five-point halftime deficit with a 42-34 edge in the second half against the second-seeded Rams.
St. Charles North plays in the fifth-place game Saturday at 6 p.m. against Saturday morning’s Joliet West-Bloomington winner.