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West Aurora's Joshua Mcauley puts up a three over Warren's James Betori (14) and Mitch Cygan (34). | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PONTIAC, Ill.— Warren star Aarias Austin went first, scoring 13 consecutive points to bring the Blue Devils back into the game early in the fourth quarter. But West Aurora star Josh McAuley responded powerfully, scoring nine of his 20 points in the fourth to lead the Blackhawks to a 49-44 win over Warren and a berth in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament championship game.
“I feel fortunate,” West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman said. “I thought we were going to give it away in the fourth quarter. When a guy is on a roll like [Austin] was you don’t know if he’s going to stop.”
Jayquan Lee did an admirable job of cooling Austin off and McAuley did the rest. The 6-7 senior’s slam with 2:45 to play changed the momentum for good and the following free throw gave the Blackhawks (10-1) a 45-42 lead. He scored again a minute later to put the game out of reach.
“I wish we would have found [McAuley] a little more,” Kerkman said.
McAuley finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Spencer Thomas added 14 points and five rebounds for the Blackhawks, who outrebounded Warren 29-19.
“Once we got the ball moving we had some open opportunities,” Kerkman said. “I wish we could have had more of that in the first half.”
Austin had a game-high 22 points for Warren (8-6) and James Betori added nine, shooting 3-for-7 from three.
West Aurora moves on to face Simeon in the championship game at 9 p.m. on Saturday.