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Bartlett's Lance Whitaker (right) defends a shot by East Aurora's Mikey Franklin on Saturday. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
East Aurora got off to a great start during Saturday afternoon’s Upstate Eight Valley contest against host Bartlett.
But Bartlett (7-3, 4-1) finally got into its rhythm and took control of the game behind guard Marcus Aluquin and standout Lance Whitaker, taming the Tomcats 63-46.
“Marcus sees the floor really well and knows when to hit people when they’re open,” Wolfsmith said.
Whitaker scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Hawks. East Aurora struggled to keep up with Whitaker, who scored half of his points from the charity stripe, converting an impressive 10-of-11.
On Thursday, the Tomcats only managed three points in the second quarter against Waubonsie Valley. At Bartlett, they scored seven points, but yielded 21, which turned their 16-10 lead into a 31-23 deficit at halftime.
“It’s been our story,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “In our last game we also got off to a nice start. Somehow we have to find a way to sustain it because we had our second bad second quarter in a row.”
“We came out slow again, but give East Aurora credit,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “They ran their stuff, got good looks and hit their shots in the first quarter. They did what they were supposed to do and it took us a while to get in our rhythm.”
East Aurora (1-9, 0-5) pulled to within 31-27 on a basket by Jonathan Villezcas (8 points) with 6:50 left in the third quarter, but the Hawks answered right back when John Moss (12 points) drained a long three-pointer 20 seconds later.
“We need some people to step up,” Jeffries said. “We can draw up all the Xs and Os, but when you come within seven (points) someone needs to come up and make a big play.”
The big plays all seemed to come from the Hawks, who also took care of business on the free throw line, making 18-of-22.
Rebounding also proved key as the Hawks took care of business on the glass by a 30-17 margin.
“Rebounding is always a big thing for us,” Wolfsmith said. “I thought we did a good job it tonight and gave them limited touches on second-chance points.”
Tyree Willis led the Tomcats with 12 points and six rebounds.