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Glenbard North never did solve the puzzle of Josh McAuley and Jontrel Walker Friday night in Aurora.
No matter how close the Panthers' boys basketball team closed to within West Aurora, the two responded in authoritative manners for the Blackhawks in their 75-59 DuPage Valley Conference victory.
The opening minutes of the fourth quarter told the story of the game for West Aurora.
Nursing a 47-43 lead after three quarters, West Aurora missed its first shot from the field — as well as its second, a Walker 3-pointer.
But McAuley rebounded the Walker miss and was fouled after converting the putback.
The ensuing free throw would be the final miscue of the quarter for West Aurora, which connected on its final 10 shots from the field in erupting for a 28-point quarter.
Walker was the undeniable catalyst as his consecutive steals were the fulcrum of a 10-point blitz in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter that put the Panthers away for good.
"Those two guys can play," Glenbard North coach Joe Larsen said of the monster games from McAuley and Walker enabled the Blackhawks (6-1, 3-0) to come home in ease. "(The 10-0 run to start the fourth) was pretty much the ballgame right there."
McAuley played the opening half as if the Panthers collectively owed him money.
Scoring 10 consecutive points in the first quarter, the 6-foot-7 post showed finesse on the perimeter with two 3-pointers, presence on the glass with a game-high 13 rebounds and intimidation in the paint with 5 blocked shots.
McAuley also finished with a season-high 16 points.
"When I was younger I used to play guard," McAuley said of his back-to-back 3-pointers in the first quarter. "It's by far the best (overall) game (of my career). Coach (Gordie Kerkman) tells me I'm a shot-blocker."
"I told him there's no reason you shouldn't be getting double-doubles," Kerkman said of McAuley.
Glenbard North (2-4, 1-2) overcame the early McAuley dominance by connecting on 9-for-14 from the field in the second quarter during a 22-13 run that left the squad trailing by a point at the break, 31-30.
West Aurora, which never trailed, opened the lead back to double digits midway through the third, only to see Glenbard North respond with solid inside and outside play.
"We saw some positives tonight," Larson said.
But the Panthers would run into another buzz-saw in the form of Walker.
The junior guard was electrifying all game, scoring a game-high 27 points while clearing 7 rebounds and handing out 5 assists.
"We picked up our intensity," Walker said. "I'm just staying aggressive (offensively). Even though I'm a point guard, I've got into the mindset to score."
Jayquan Lee and Spencer Thomas were the third and fourth West Aurora players in double figures with 10 points each.
Receiving contributions from its starters as well as bench, Glenbard North was equally balanced.
Chavares Flanigan led the Panthers with 13 points; Justin Jackson and Kendall Holbert added 10 each, and Ryan Storto narrowly missed double figures with nine.