Neuqua Valley boys basketball coach Todd Sutton said Aurora Central Catholic's tempo is faster than he prefers.
The Wildcats' 66-46 victory on Thursday at the 47th annual East Aurora Tournament looked comfortable enough. On Friday unbeaten Neuqua Valley (12-0) faces defending Class 3A champion and Tomcats tourney champ Peoria Central, also 2-0 in Aurora.
An 11-0 run spanning the first and second quarters separated Neuqua from ACC. Point guard Jabari Sandifer dished out 6 assists, Pat Kenny scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and ACC (6-5) shot 31 percent from the floor.
"They run really fast and they'll shoot a lot of 3s off their fastbreak," Sutton said. "Not many teams do that, so we had to make sure we were able to get back, but close out the 3-point shot. They started making a few of them late, but early on we did a really good job with that."
The Chargers' Phil Schuetz scored half his team-high 16 points in the first quarter, and Mike O'Donnell scored for a 12-12 draw at 1:02 of the first. Then five Wildcats scored for a 23-12 Neuqua lead at 6:05 of the second quarter. Connor Raridon capped the run. He received Sandifer's 30-foot pass, went baseline, got fouled making the basket and hit the free throw.
"I just thought we missed shots," said ACC coach Nathan Drye "If we're going to beat a team like that we've got to shoot it well, and we did not shoot it well at all. We'd have to shoot it really well to beat a team like that and we didn't do that, so that hurt us."
Eleven of the 12 players Sutton inserted scored, Raridon finishing with 7 points and Sandifer, Darien Miskel, Elijah Robertson and Zach Incaudo adding 6 apiece. ACC's Anthony Andujar scored 9 with 4 assists.
"We know that no matter who we pass it to it's going to be a good shot, it's a good player and we have no worries about, Oh, that guy might not make a shot. We're all confident in each other," Kenny said.
Neuqua's momentum didn't slow in the least. It led 38-21 at halftime and posted its first 20-point lead, 56-35, on Josh Piotrowski's lefty flip with hang time a minute into the fourth quarter.
"We have a lot of good players and they all came in and they did their jobs and they all executed offense, which resulted in easy shots," Sutton said.
"We didn't make them work for it," Drye said. "We've got to make shots, we've got to score in order to be in it and we didn't do that at all. That's why we struggled."