For the first time in 12 years West Aurora was making consecutive appearances in the Elite Eight.
But in a repeat of an identical scenario from the last boys basketball season--same location, same opponent--the Blackhawks had their bid for a berth in the Final Four evaporate at Hinsdale Central with a 62-52 loss to Proviso East in a Class 4A supersectional Tuesday night.
With the loss the Blackhawks' Jayquan Lee and twins Spencer and Chandler Thomas had their three-year varsity careers come to a close.
West Aurora came out of the gate like a wounded tiger as the Thomas twins were the catalysts to a dominant first-quarter performance on the backboards.
The Blackhawks would ultimately more than double the Pirates' rebounding totals to the tune of 39-15.
Spencer Thomas' 9 first-quarter points were instrumental to the Blackhawks' 5-point lead after eight minutes.
"I would never have guessed that we would make (consecutive supersectionals)," Spencer Thomas said. "I had no idea that I would be such a key player to our team."
"In the first half we didn't match their intensity (on the glass)," Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. "(The Blackhawks' players) wanted it a little bit more."
Chandler Thomas snared 7 rebounds during the game, utilizing superior position to negate the Pirates' athleticism.
"I made a promise to myself that if this was going to be my last (high school) game that I was going to do whatever I could for us," Chandler Thomas said. "I was going to get every rebound that I could get."
Lee, meanwhile, opened the second half for West Aurora with a 3-pointer to negate the buzzer-beater the Pirates' Jevon Lee authored to bring Proviso East within a point, 24-23, at the break.
The Blackhawks' unassuming shooting guard would connect from long distance three times during the game to finish with 11 points.
Unfortunately for Lee and his teammates, though, the first bucket of the third quarter did not portend well for the team offensively.
Proviso East hit West Aurora with a 17-0 game-changing run over a five-minute stretch in the third.
"We prepared for this game better than we did last year," Lee said of West Aurora leading for virtually the entire first half. "It has been a good experience for me (the last two years)."
Lee will continue his athletic career with Chicago North Park next fall.
Matt Williams, who began his senior season with hardly any varsity experience, became a key reserve for West Aurora this year.
Known for his defensive toughness and unrelenting play in the paint, Williams will play football for Robert Morris University this fall.
The Thomas twins, who are undecided about where they will attend college, combined for 11 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists in their final game for the Blackhawks.