2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/11/2014 11:04 PM

West Aurora pulls away from Wheaton North

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

West Aurora had a string of seven consecutive boys basketball championships, beginning with its state-championship team of 2000.

But the storied program has not been atop the DuPage Valley Conference standings since 2006.

With its sterling second-half against visiting Wheaton North on Saturday night in Aurora, the Blackhawks hit the Falcons with a 16-2 third-quarter run and turned on the afterburners by converting its last 11 field-goal attempts.

The Blackhawks' 67-48 triumph -- reversing a 7-point halftime deficit -- left them 10-3 overall and 5-0 in league play.

"We've got a long way to go," West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman said. "There is a lot of balance in the league."

Jontrell Walker missed his first 7 shots before regaining his form to lead both teams with 17 points.

The four-year West Aurora starting guard had able company.

Junior Roland Griffin added 15 points, and fellow forward Tommy Koth had a career-high 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Blackhawks.

"We usually start off a little flat-footed," said Koth, who had 8 first-quarter points before missing virtually the entire second quarter with foul problems. "Coach (Kerkman) was saying his usual wisdom at halftime. (The comeback) started on the defensive side, and that translated into our offense."

"I just pointed out some of the things we were doing (wrong)," Kerkman said.

Wheaton North (9-5, 3-2), led by 13 points from Nick Jordan, had a 17-5 bolt to end the second quarter in taking a 33-26 lead at the break.

But Griffin and Walker scored 9 points in succession as part of an 11-0 run, and Matt Dunn reversed the teams' 7-point leads with a bomb at the third-quarter buzzer.

Walker misfired on a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, but the Blackhawks would not miss again with their 11 consecutive field goals to end the game.

West Aurora outscored Wheaton North 41-15 after halftime.

"The second half was very disappointing," Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann said. "We want to play in big games like this."

Brackmann raved about the development of Griffin; the Blackhawks' forward has gone from a bench player from a year ago to one of the most talked-about juniors in the state.

"He has gotten bigger and stronger," Brackmann said of Griffin. "His finishes well around the basket with his athleticism. He didn't look like a junior out there."

Wheaton North erupted for 22 second-quarter points to take its first of two 7-point leads at halftime.

Andrew Slivinski and Nick Traversa hit 3-pointers for the Falcons, and Nathan Houlihan added a 3-point play.

"I thought (Wheaton North) executed very well (in the first half)," Kerkman said. "There was more emotion to our defense in the second half."

Dunn and starting post Carleton Williams each added 7 points for West Aurora.

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