With Jared Brownridge and Mike Blaszczyk putting on quite a duel of offensive firepower, some fans may have not noticed just how great a night Waubonsie Valley's Bryan Jefferson had against Naperville Central.
But both coaches involved in Tuesday's nonconference battle in Aurora were well aware of just how impressive Jefferson was in the Warriors' 74-66 victory. The 6-foot-7 forward helped Waubonsie Valley (11-6) turn a 49-46 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter into a victory and finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
"Bryan was huge tonight. He really stepped up in the second half for us," Warriors coach Steve Weemer said after Jefferson tallied 16 second-half points to finish with a personal-best 24.
After Brownridge came out on fire with four 3s and 14 points in the first quarter, he was on his way to yet another big night for the hosts. Despite connecting on just three field goals over the final three quarters, the Warriors star still led the way with 32 points, including 11 free throws in his team's 28-point fourth quarter.
The Redhawks had trailed 41-33 in the third quarter before going on a 16-5 run to close out the period with a three-point lead. Blaszczyk scored 10 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter as Naperville Central (10-5) seemed to position itself for a nice run down the stretch.
But instead the Warriors opened the final quarter with an 11-0 run to retake the lead for good. Jefferson had a pair of baskets inside during the fast start and finished the quarter with 9 points, including an exclamation point fastbreak dunk in the waning seconds.
"Me scoring those points definitely gives (Brownridge) relief and the team relief," Jefferson said when asked about taking some of the scoring load off of the team's top player. "We know that we're versatile and I know I'm capable of scoring."
Even after Waubonsie's strong start to the fourth quarter, the Redhawks kept on fighting and staying close as Blaszczyk and Matthew Bennett each nailed 3-pointers in the fourth and center Nick Czarnowski scored 5 points in the quarter to finish with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
"We lost our composure a little after we regained the lead," Redhawks coach Pete Kramer said. "They were on fire. Brownridge hit some tough shots and Jefferson played real well. Offensively, we scored enough points to win and I thought our kids battled, but defensively we were not very good tonight."
Naperville Central made eight 3-pointers with Rob Suntken and Nicky Lopez each adding a pair, but the Warriors' 1-2 punch of Brownridge and Jefferson was just too tough on this night while combining for 56 points and 21 boards.
Afterward Weemer was relieved to escape with a victory.
"That was a great high school basketball game and we beat a very good team tonight," he said.