Dom Adduci has a way of easing his nerves.
Adduci scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to help lift St. Charles East's basketball team to a convincing 79-64 season-opening victory over East Aurora Monday night on the first night of the 55th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament in St. Charles.
"Before the game, I felt a little jittery," admitted Adduci. "It was my first game back from my labrum tear but when I got out there all the nerves subsided and it just felt great."
The 6-foot senior guard displayed his all-around skills during the Saints' 28-point second quarter that helped open a 42-21 halftime advantage.
Adduci, who began the quarter with a drive to the basket that resulted in a 3-point play, capped a 14-4 run with a 3-pointer to extend the Saints' lead to 28-12.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone -- it just so happened that I got the drives and the paint opened up," said Adduci, who added 7 rebounds and a pair of assists. "I think we set the tone for the season tonight."
"I thought Dom was outstanding -- lights out in the first half," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "He's so fast with the ball and able to get down the floor so easily."
Adduci's play certainly caught the attention of Tomcats coach Wendell Jeffries.
"He took over in the second quarter," said Jeffries. "It was his ball-handling and penetration that killed us. I actually saw glimpses of Boatright (former East Aurora star guard Ryan) in that second quarter. He was going right by us and we're supposed to be pretty quick.
"We didn't make quick enough adjustments on Adduci."
Playing without a pair of starters -- David Mason (stress fracture in right foot) and Cole Gentry (back) -- the Saints received double-digit scoring support from A.J. Washington (13 points), Jake Asquini (11 points, 7 rebounds) and junior forward Mick Vyzral (11 points, 7 rebounds).
Washington, a 6-5 senior forward, helped ignite the Saints' offense early with his thunderous 1-hand dunk that snapped a 6-6 deadlock midway through the opening quarter.
"I love being above the rim," said Washington, who hauled down a game-high 13 rebounds to go with 5 blocked shots. "When I took off (just inside the free-throw line), I didn't think I was going to make it. That got the crowd into it and riled up the team."
"I thought he was dominant tonight," Woods said of Washington. "He looked real smooth and played well and he's going to continue to get better."
East Aurora outscored the Saints 43-37 in the second half.
"We didn't play hard enough in the second half and we gave up way too many points in the second half," said Woods. "Of course I'm happy to get the win but we're just looking to get better. It showed a lot of stuff that we've got to work on but we've got to do it quickly because we've got Schaumburg on Wednesday."
Fred Reynolds paced the Tomcats with 16 points.
"Nobody likes to lose but now we don't have to worry about going undefeated," said Jeffries. "That's a good basketball team we played tonight."