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West Aurora's Spencer Thomas is greeted by teammates with praise after he stopped the Downers Grove South offense from scoring during the boy's IHSA regional game on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at Wheaton Warrenville South High School in Wheaton IL. |
Things appeared to be unraveling for West Aurora as Joshua McAuley and Spencer Thomas each picked up their third foul with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Blackhawks clinging to just a three-point lead in Wednesday’s Class 4A WW South semifinal against Downers South.
Rather than succumb to the Mustangs though, the Blackhawks responded with an 8-0 run to take a 44-33 lead with 2:20 left in the quarter, which they’d never relinquish in a 67-59 victory.
West Aurora (20-7) will meet either Geneva or Hinsdale Central in Friday’s regional title at 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t think it was anything I particularly said,” West Aurora coach Gordie Kerman said. “I think they just realized they better get in gear or the season’s over.”
A pair of free throws from Jontrell Walker, the first such attempts from the Blackhawks in the game, started the run with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
Matt Williams followed with a pull-up jumper and then a tip-in to extend the lead to 42-33.
Williams, known more as a defender than a scorer, finished with 13 critical points off the bench.
“He’s actually done more for us defensively than on offense, but he’s also had some good offensive games,” Kerkman said. “He picked it up tonight.”
Jontrell Walker led the Blackhawks with 23 points and fully understood the fact that the target was on his team’s back.
“We know every team is coming for West Aurora,” he said. “Once we get into the game they got a lot of intensity and energy and we just try to match it and get beyond it.”
Downers South (14-12) received a huge outburst from Jordan Cannon, who canned four three-pointers and finished with 25 points in his final career game. Fellow seniors Robert Mara (11 rebounds, eight points) and Scott McNellis (eight points, three rebounds) also proved key in what also was retiring Mustang coach Jay Baum’s finale.
“Jordan’s very soft spoken and been a great leader for four years, I’m very proud of him.” Baum said. “Robert really battled in there for us tonight and Scott’s another senior who I can’t say enough about. He does all the dirty work and all three have been tremendous leaders.”
They also had the Mustangs thinking about the upset until West Aurora pulled away midway through the third quarter.
“They just executed on offense better than we did,” Baum said. “No one wants their season to end, but it’s not like we had the game and lost. They’re a very quality, high-ranked team with a lot of weapons, and I can live with that.”
McAuley added 10 rebounds and Jayquan Lee scored nine points for the winners.