Once South Elgin got its game rolling Friday night, there was little East Aurora could do to stop the Storm.
Becca Smith scored 28 points and with starting point guard Savanah Uveges not available to play, the Storm got a lift from several role players as they registered a 60-49 come-from-behind win over the Tomcats in Upstate Eight Valley girls basketball action at South Elgin.
"Savanah is a big part of our team and she's done a real nice job for us the last two years," said Smith of the sophomore Uveges, who missed her first game in two seasons to participate in a college exposure soccer tournament, which is her sport of choice for college.
Without Uveges running the show, the Storm (14-8, 3-6) got off to a slow start and trailed East Aurora (9-14, 0-9) by as many as 12 points, 24-12, with 3:05 left in the first half. But then South Elgin started dialing up from long range. Hitting 4 3-pointers in the final 2:50 of the period, including one from Alexa Mathison at the buzzer that bounced around the rim three times before falling through, the Storm went on a 21-4 splurge and led at halftime 33-28.
"We weren't playing bad defense early in the game but we weren't making shots and then we started playing poor defense," said South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast, whose team was 10 of 16 in the second half and 22-for-42 for the game. "Our shooting jump-started us in the second quarter."
Six different South Elgin players hit 3-pointers in the game as the Storm went 9 of 19 from long range. Smith canned one from the top of the circle with 2:07 left in the third quarter that gave South Elgin a 45-32 lead. East Aurora never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"I didn't want to trade baskets with them in the third quarter," Prendergast said. "They're an athletic team that can shoot. We had a good third quarter. I'm proud of the kids for being resilient tonight and fighting back."
Smith was held to just 3 points in the first quarter but exploded for 11 in the second quarter and 9 in the third. She raised her corrected and now accurate career total to 1,873. She also had 7 steals and 5 assists in the win.
Tyshee Towner led East Aurora with 17 points.
South Elgin also got solid contributions from sophomore post Kennede Miller (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals), senior Lania Robinson (6 points), senior Alexa Mathison (6 points) and sophomore Anna Tracy (6 points), who all joined the 3-point barrage, as well as freshman Delaney Kelleher, who played her first varsity game and started at the point. She hit a 3-pointer during the second-quarter run as well.
"Delaney was a little nervous but she calmed down and once we all got on the same page we were fine," said Smith. "And Kennede did a nice job down low tonight."
The Storm can now turn their attention to a Tuesday date at No. 1 Bartlett, which lost for the first time Friday night, 58-45, at Waubonsie Valley. South Elgin is one of only two teams of the 22 Bartlett has beaten this season that has come within 10 points of the Hawks, having lost at home to them on Dec. 15, 66-57.
"It's a big one Tuesday and we're definitely starting to play well again," said Smith. "Hopefully we can take this momentum into Bartlett."