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Charging out of the gates Tuesday night, Aurora Christian dashed to an early lead. The Eagles revved the throttle in the middle frames before trotting to a 67-38 non-conference victory over visiting Newark.
Outscoring the Norsemen 17-4 in the second stanza, the Eagles (5-4 overall) forged a 32-16 advantage at halftime. That lead balloned to 53-25 after three quarters. Senior Corey Windle scored a team-high 14 points while sophomore Wes Wolfe added 12 points and Jonathan Harrell chipped in 11. Newark senior Brett Anderson led all scorers with 16 points.
A backdoor alley-oop slam by Windle put the Eagles on the scoreboard and seemed to fuel the rest of the Eagles. Trailing 4-0, Wolfe lobbed a pass that Windle deposited. Clamping down defensively, the Eagles forced 13 first half turnovers, including nine in the decisive second quarter.
“Anytime you get a big play like that, a big dunk, it definitely gets the team going,” said senior Ryan Suttle.
“We definitely needed a pick me up, and I’ve had at least five of my coaches say a dunk can change the game in a heartbeat,” Windle said.
Opening the second frame with an 8-0 burst, the Eagles began to pull away. Ryan McQuade scored from the post and Windle followed with three consecutive fast break buckets including a dunk. Windle added a third slam on a give and go with Wolfe in the third quarter. The Eagles dished out about 18 assists.
“They did a great job of passing the ball,” said AC coach Pat McNamara. “They’re looking for each other now and getting easy shots. They cranked up defensively and got some steals. They’re doing better with some pressure defense just in the last week.”
McQuade and Grant Schweisthal continued the second quarter barrage with a three-pointer and basket in the lane, respectively, while Suttle and Wolfe scored after collecting steals. All five starters scored in the third period when the Eagles netted 21 points. The Eagles canned 23-of-46 from the field in the first three quarters. Newark (5-4) was unable to keep pace as errant passes hampered them. The win was the second in as many nights for the Eagles.
“We’re turning it around a little bit as a team,” Windle said. “We’re playing together and starting to gel together.”
“I thought we played really well (Monday) night for the first time all season” McNamara said. “But our guys we’re ready to go today too.”
Are they turning the corner?
“I think so, but this group has fooled me before,” answered McNamara. “We’ll find out. The proof is in the pudding. We’ve got that Plano tournament, so we’ll find out.”
It’s still early in the race.