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PONTIAC -- The entire complexion of the game was altered in less than a minute.
West Aurora four-year starting guard Jontrel Walker had a roughly 45-second sequence that cashiered the Peoria Manual hopes for a Final Four berth at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament Friday afternoon.
Walker had steals on four consecutive Manual possessions late in the third quarter; the senior turned the thefts into three simple buckets, hit a short jumper for his eighth point in the run and fed Matt Dunn with a no-look pass for another easy deuce three seconds before the period ended.
Suddenly, the Blackhawks' quarterfinal with the Rams was a 15-point spread entering the final quarter.
Roland Griffin then finished off the Rams' aspirations by converting all 4 of his field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter to amplify the Blackhawks' 73-53 victory.
The fourth-seeded Blackhawks meet Curie, which dispatched Warren 69-41 behind the 21 points and 13 rebounds from Kansas-bound center Cliff Alexander, in the second semifinal Saturday afternoon.
Walker finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with 6 steals and 4 assists, while Griffin had 21 points and a game-high 8 rebounds.
West Aurora (8-1), which won its seventh straight game, blistered Manual in the second half.
The team was 18-for-26 after the intermission and ended the game shooting at a 59-percent clip (31-53).
"We turned our momentum on them," Walker said. "We did what the game plan was -- to break (the Manual) press and play as a team. When you press, you take a lot of (defensive) gambles. We had a lot of layups."
But it was the Walker-directed conclusion to the third quarter that garnered the share of postgame attention as the Blackhawks' game-long lead swelled from a manageable 5-point spread to 56-41 to begin the fourth quarter.
"Sometimes it was almost as if they were handed to us," West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman said.
"(The sequence) was tough to swallow," former Manual great and current coach Devid Booth said. "That was definitely a nail in the coffin. We could not overcome those 5 turnovers (to end the third)."
The Blackhawks did have issues with carelessness in the final quarter, but Manual could not make any significant inroads due to their flawless shooting.
West Aurora ended the game by making all 8 of its fourth-quarter shots from the field.
Griffin displayed range with the jumper, moves in the post and an ability to draw fouls in traffic.
The junior was 7-for-9 from the field in totaling his second-highest total of his varsity career.
"I think he has the potential to be a dominating player," Kerkman said of Griffin.
West Aurora has yet to trail in its two games at its traditional holiday grounds.
The Blackhawks began the game with a 12-4 run punctuated by Carleton Williams' twin dunks, only to see Manual respond with a 14-6 run of its own.
But the 18-18 deadlock would be the only tie of the game as the Blackhawks gradually assembled a 35-28 lead at the break.
Williams and fellow starter Matt Dunn narrowly missed double figures with 8 points each.
Javon Lee had 19 points to lead three Manual players in double digits.