It's not often that a 30-point effort by Jared Brownridge gets overshadowed.
But Waubonsie Valley senior forward Bryan Jefferson provided both the spectacular and the sublime to lead the Warriors to a 76-62 victory over host Metea Valley on Saturday night in Aurora.
The 6-foot-7 Jefferson hit all 8 of his shots from the field en route to 21 points. He grabbed 6 rebounds and led everyone with 6 assists, including several nice dishes near the end to get layups for his teammates.
"Scouting him, we knew Jefferson had been playing at a high level," said Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza. "We knew that's what he's capable of."
But they couldn't know this: His half-court buzzer-beater to close the first quarter gave Waubonsie Valley (18-7, 7-4) the lead for good, then his remarkable drive and poster dunk two minutes into the second quarter revved up the Warriors even more.
Jefferson didn't change expression after either spectacular play. On the outside.
"(My mind) was kind of going crazy," Jefferson said. "But I knew I was capable of doing them. I had to keep my team in the game."
The Warriors needed Jefferson's early exploits because Metea Valley (15-9, 8-3) jumped them at the outset.
When Mustangs senior Vin Patel drilled an open 3-pointer in transition at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter, the hosts owned a 15-7 lead. Waubonsie Valley coach Steve Weemer called a timeout and didn't mince words.
"I can't repeat what I said in the timeout," Weemer said. "But our guys needed a little motivation. We weren't playing hard and they were getting after it and hit some shots. We weren't getting back, and one of our key focuses was transition. " After the timeout Metea Valley managed just two baskets the rest of the half as Waubonsie Valley raced to a 39-27 lead.
At the break Brownridge and Jefferson had combined for 29 points and 20 of the Warriors' 25 field-goal attempts.
After the break Jefferson attempted just one shot as he was content to get the ball in the middle and pass to open teammates -- including senior center Javares Stewart, who hit all 5 of his shots and finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Brownridge kept attacking the basket and getting to the line. He wound up 8 of 21 from the field, but 12 of 14 on free throws. He hit 6 of 6 after Metea Valley rallied to get within 67-60 with 1:31 to go.
So the Warriors evened the District 204 score after Metea won 49-48 at Waubonsie on Dec. 15 -- and there's a good chance for a rubber match.
The Class 4A Bolingbrook sectional pairings, released this week, show the 11th-seeded Mustangs and sixth-seeded Warriors on a collision course for an Oswego East regional semifinal game on Feb. 26.
"The sectional's loaded," Vozza said. "We have heart, we have compassion. We've got to step up and regroup going into the playoffs."