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West Aurora's Jayquan Lee (4) drives past St. Joseph's Loren Horton during the second quarter of their game Saturday evening at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
West Aurora senior Matt Williams knows that his role off the bench is primarily rebounding and defense.
So when starting center Josh McAuley picked up his second foul with 1:55 left in the first quarter, Williams was summoned from the bench.
Williams did his usual work on the defensive end, but he also provided the offensive spark that led the Blackhawks to a 56-47 win over St. Joseph at the 16th annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown at the Sears Centre.
With the score tied at 12-12 early in the second quarter, Williams scored nine of his 10 points in an 11-2 West run that gave the Blackhawks a 23-14 lead and put them in control of the game.
“I come in usually for defense,” Williams said. “Offense is just a bonus for me. When I score, it’s just a bonus for the team. It just felt good. I gave us a spark of energy. They gave me the confidence to play well.”
Williams, Chandler Thomas and Spencer Thomas, all listed at 6-foot-2, had to help out on 6-foot-8 St. Joseph center A.J. Patty on the defensive end with McAuley limited to 15 minutes in the game. Patty still managed to lead the Chargers with 14 points, but that trio limited him.
“Josh went out and we increased the lead when he went out,” West coach Gordie Kerkman said. “Even though they don’t jump that well, Spencer and Chandler and Matt all play pretty big.”
St. Joseph (11-10) went on an 11-1 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth to cut West’s lead to 42-37, but that was the closest the Chargers would get.
Spencer Thomas and Jontrel Walker, who tied for game-high scoring honors with 16 points, helped West (16-3) close the game out. Walker scored six points and Thomas four down the stretch as West pulled away. As a team, the Blackhawks hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final minutes.
“They played pretty heady for the most part,” Kerkman said.
Sophomore Glynn Watson added 10 points for St. Joseph.