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Naperville North's Bryan LoLordo and West Aurora's Jayquan Lee pursue a loose ball Friday at West Aurora. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Five minutes and 23 seconds is so little time in the grand scheme of things, but it proved decisive Friday night in West Aurora’s 62-60 boys basketball loss to visiting Naperville North.
The Blackhawks were outscored 22-2 in that span, covering the final 3:13 of the third quarter and opening 2:10 of the fourth. It allowed the Huskies to move from a 39-30 deficit to a 52-41 lead they never relinquished.
“Our ‘chin’ offense in the third quarter, based on Northwestern’s spread ‘em out and try to go backdoor, was effective,” said North coach Jeff Powers, who also thought his decision to go man-to-man on defense was important.
His team fell behind 34-26 at halftime as the Blackhawks solved his team’s zone looks.
The setback spoiled West’s senior night. More importantly, it put a serious crimp in the Blackhawks’ DuPage Valley Conference title hopes. They fell to 10-2 and a game behind Glenbard East with two games remaining. They’re 19-5 overall.
“Well, we could not keep them from going to the basket, which we sort of emphasized at halftime,” said West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman. “The only thing we could do is foul and our offense was not much better.
“I don’t know if it was their (second-half) defense or our lacke of patience and poise. We wanted to score on the first opportunity every time. They played the type of game I’d like to play. They moved the ball and were very patient offensively.”
Huskies’ senior guard Bryan LoLordo gave the Blackhawks fits with his drives to the basket. He finished with a team-high 20 points, including 12-for-12 from the free throw line.
“Bryan LoLordo had an outstanding game,” said Powers. “He made big shots, big passes and defended his tail off. He really led us and he changed his pace on those drives.”
“Growing up, it’s always been my strong suit,” LoLordo said.
It proved especially valuable in that second half.
He drew West center Josh McAuley’s third foul 21 seconds into the third quarter, sending the Blackhawk standout to the bench for the rest of the period. Early in the fourth, LoLordo and freshman guard Jelani McClain Jr. drew fouls on McAuley on back-to-back possessions that sent him to the bench for good with five fouls at the 5:11 mark.
“Josh was his own worst enemy,” said Kerkman. “You get two fouls early like he did and you’ve gotta play carefully on defense.”
West trailed by as many as 12 points (57-45) with 3:15 remaining in regulation but stormed back. A LoLordo layup off an outlet pass on the press break gave the Huskies a 62-56 advantage with 45 seconds left.
West guard Jontrel Walker, who had a game-high 22 points, made to two of three foul shots with 24 seconds remaining. North turned the ball over with less than 10 seconds left but the Blackhawks couldn’t get a 3-pointer to drop. A Spencer Thomas jumper as time ran out accounted for the final margin.
Naperville North was 27 of 30 from the foul line and West went 26 of 34 in a game that featured 47 fouls.
McClain finished with 15 points, 11 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought McClain grew up today,” said Powers, whose club climbs to 17-7 and 8-4.
“I’m so happy for these kids. We’ve played an extremely tough schedule and they’ve been so close so many times against good teams, and this West team is a very good team.”