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Aurora Christian's Ryan McQuade (center) battles for a rebound Wednesday against St. Edward. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
St. Edward managed to keep things respectable Wednesday, but Aurora Christian’s superiority was never in doubt.
The third-seeded Eagles executed to near perfection in the first quarter and maintained a comfortable lead for much of the night on their way to a 78-66 victory against the second-seeded Green Wave in the semifinals of the Class 2A Westmont Regional.
Cory Windle racked up 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for Aurora Christian (18-11), which drained five three-pointers in the first quarter and led 25-13 after the first eight minutes. The Eagles will bring a six-game win streak into Friday’s championship game against top seed Immaculate Conception.
“It’s important to come out hard and to try to keep that throughout the game,” Windle said. “If we keep playing how we are and shooting like we are, it should be a good game (Friday).”
Aurora Christian’s Ryan McQuade came off the bench and sank three three-pointers in the first quarter while scoring 11 of his 17 points. The barrage never really ended for the Eagles, who shot a blistering 31-of-53 (58.5 percent) from the field.
St. Edward (20-8) faced a 39-22 deficit by halftime and trailed by as many as 24 points in the second half. A run of three-pointers helped the Green Wave pull within 61-50 with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter, but it could come no closer.
“You can’t be down by 12 points at the end of the first quarter,” St. Edward coach P.J. White said. “You can’t bury yourself that deep and be expected to fight back.”
Johnathan Harrell contributed 12 points and Ryan Suttle had 11 for Aurora Christian, which won two of its three meetings against St. Edward this season.
The Eagles used crisp passing to spark their offensive success. In addition to Windle’s six assists, Suttle and McQuade added four assists apiece.
“We’re passing the ball better than we have all year in the last five or six games,” Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara said. “We do have shooters, and in the past we weren’t getting the ball to the shooters in the right spot. The guys are doing a much better job now.”
Antonio Domel, one of two seniors on the Green Wave’s roster, made six three-pointers and finished with a team-high 22 points. Junior Davontae Elam added 20 points and seven steals and sophomore Nick Duffy had 14 points.
The defeat was the fourth in the past seven games for St. Edward, which despite fading down the stretch still posted its highest win total since 1998 while ending a streak of 10 straight losing seasons.
“I’m proud of what these guys have done for the St. Edward program,” White said. “We’ve got a young group with two sophomores and a bunch of juniors coming back. Our freshman and sophomore teams both won the conference, so we’re looking for bigger and better things.”
AURORA CHRISTIAN 78, ST. EDWARD 66
Aurora Christian (18-11)
Windle 10 3-3 26, McQuade 6 1-2 17, Harrell 5 0-3 12, Suttle 4 3-4 11, Singer 3 0-0 6, Shaw 2 0-0 4, Wolfe 1 0-0 2. Totals 31 7-12 78.
St. Edward (20-8)
Domel 8 0-2 22, Elam 6 7-9 20, Duffy 5 4-9 14, Favela 2 0-0 5, Butzow 1 0-0 3, Ponce 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 11-20 66.
AC 25 14 19 20 -- 78
SE 13 9 22 22 -- 66
Three-point goals -- AC: 9 (McQuade 4, Windle 3, Harrell 2). SE: 9 (Domel 6, Butzow, Elam, Favela). Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- AC: McQuade. SE: None.