Tommy Koth didn’t feel the pressure.
“Not really, I was drowning out all the voices,” said the West Aurora junior, who on Saturday made the biggest shot of his time of the varsity.
Teammates Jontrell Walker and Myles Wisley teamed with Koth to give West Aurora a 42-40 overtime win Saturday over tenacious Naperville North to keep the Blackhawks in the hunt for the DuPage Valley Conference title.
Out of a timeout with 27.7 seconds left in overtime, the fans in the Naperville gym on their feet, West Aurora wound clock until Walker dribbled toward the right corner, Anthony Rehayem guarding him in a box-and-one.
West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman devised the play for a potential Walker shot, an option denied when Walker slipped and fell. Somehow he maintained his dribble and quickly pushed the ball to Wisley in the corner.
“It’s not the way we normally run it,” Kerkman said, “but it worked out.”
The senior drove baseline into the lane where he found Koth inside the low block. Koth’s shot crawled over the rim and in for the game-winner with 1.2 seconds left.
“You know, I’m always looking for my shot,” Wisley said, “but if I see a teammate open I think I’ll pass before I’ll shoot it. So I seen Tommy, I know he’ll finish for me, so I just gave it to Tommy for the game.”
“It feels good,” Koth said. “It feels great. Never going to forget this.”
Naperville North (16-9, 8-5) got the look it wanted on Anthony Rehayem’s baseball pass from the far baseline with 1.2 seconds left. Mike Laurenzo split two defenders to catch the ball and his shot just off the 3-point arc hit the front of the rim.
“I told the kids (in the locker room) that I was so proud of them that they were able to compete with (what) some people think is the best team in the sectional,” said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. “So for us to keep it to a two-point overtime loss, I’m pretty proud of our kids when we just got destroyed (77-53) last time against them. This was a good thing.”
To keep pace with Glenbard North atop the DVC standings with one game left, West Aurora (20-5, 11-2) needed to beat Naperville North’s deliberate style that had fueled a seven-game win streak.
“We can do up-tempo and we can slow down,” said Walker, who scored 24 points. “It is part of our game, and we just made sure we played ‘D.’”
In a game with just 63 total shots and 9 turnovers — and Naperville North’s fateful 6-of-13 foul shooting — Rehayem’s dribble drive through traffic was the only basket the last 2:38 of regulation. He tied it up 38-38.
Rehayem, whose 14 points led the Huskies, teamed with Jelani McClain Jr. on an initial last-ditch try for a game-winner in regulation. Like Laurenzo’s overtime shot, McClain’s bounced off the rim from about 35 feet. McClain finished with 10 points and 2 steals.
“We’ve just been playing a lot better team defense, and talking,” Rehayem said. “Early in the season nobody was talking, nobody was helping each other out and now we’ve kind of come together as a team and we’re really playing hard defense.”