Two high school boys basketball teams were sorely in need of a victory Friday night.
Unfortunately for injury depleted South Elgin (2-10, 0-6), it was East Aurora (2-9, 1-5) that emerged with its first Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division win of the season, handing the Storm a 69-57 setback in Aurora.
Jonathon Villezcas, Peetie Davis and Tyree Willis all reached double-figure scoring by halftime, as the Tomcats blistered the net at a 70 percent clip from the field (19-for-27) on their way to a 48-27 lead at the intermission.
"They were shooting a high percentage but we've got to do a better job defensively closing out to them," said Storm coach Chaz Taft, whose team dropped its ninth consecutive game. "Our closeouts to them have to make them miss their shots or force them into travels when they put it in the deck."
With the game tied at 8-8 midway through the opening quarter, the Tomcats closed out the period on a 13-4 run to grab a 21-12 lead.
Villezcas, who scored a team-leading 18 points, and Davis came off the bench to provide 8 of the Tomcats' 21 first-quarter output.
The duo remained hot in the second quarter, as Villezcas scored the Tomcats' first 7 points of the period to extend their lead to 28-12.
Meanwhile, Davis connected on all 3 of his second-period shots, 2 from 3-point range, and another 3-pointer by Willis gave the Tomcats their largest lead of the night at 46-21.
"That was just what we needed," said East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries. "We did a great job taking advantage of them having two starting guards out, and I thought we did a great job of sharing the ball in the first half."
Playing without junior guard Darius Wells (foot) and freshman point guard Matt Smith (concussion), South Elgin outscored the Tomcats 17-9 in the third quarter but couldn't whittle the second-half deficit to single digits.
"The kids made a nice run at the end but we just can't get down that much," said Taft. "We can't have 24 turnovers."
Junior guard Matt McClure had a game-high 19 points and 7 assists for the Storm.
"It's hard because we're missing Darius and Matt," said McClure. "I had to move to the one (point guard) and we had to make adjustments."
"We got everything we got out of him tonight," Taft said of McClure, "and everybody else, too."
Junior center Robert Grant added 18 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots for the Storm.
"Rob's getting better every game, he's getting better every practice," Taft said of Grant. "We just have to make sure we keep on him to keep going in the right direction. He'll be fine. He's learning every day.
"We're just trying to get our guys better and when we're at full strength hopefully it all comes together," added the coach.
Senior guard Marcus Hatchett added 10 points for South Elgin, which will take on Crystal Lake Central this morning in the opening round of the Jacobs Holiday Tournament.
"We won't get much sleep tonight but that's what high school basketball is all about," said Taft.