Turnabout is fair play.
Ten days ago, Aurora Christian’s basketball team let a 49-43 third-quarter lead slip away during an eventual 70-62 regular-season loss to St. Edward.
The Eagles (16-11) turned the tables on the Green Wave (20-9) at the right time Tuesday night.
Aurora Christian outscored second-seeded St. Edward 22-7 in the fourth quarter en route to a 58-42 Class 2A regional semifinal victory in Aurora.
After two free throws from senior Davontae Elam (12 points, 8 rebounds) pulled the Green Wave within 6 at 45-39 with 4:45 remaining, the third-seeded Eagles responded with a 14-3 surge over the last 4 minutes to put the game away.
“I thought we started moving the ball a lot better and we started focusing on defense,” said Eagles sophomore guard Pat McNamara, who scored 7 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
St. Edward, which had defeated Aurora Christian twice during the regular season, was unable to get anything going at either end of the court over the final 8 minutes.
“Whoever the hot team was at the end of the game was going to win,” said Green Wave coach P.J. White. “I just didn’t think they could stay hot that long but they stayed hot for a long time.”
Aurora Christian connected on 7 of its 8 fourth-quarter shots, including a clutch corner 3-pointer from junior guard Wes Wolfe (7 points) that upped the lead to 45-37 with 5:36 remaining.
In addition to their 8 fourth-quarter turnovers, the Green Wave made just 1 of 15 field-goal tries – 0-for-11 from 3-point range – in the final period.
“They extended their defense out and we didn’t have any answer for that,” said White. “And we’re just not a 3-point shooting team.”
Sophomore R.D. Lutze scored a game-high 15 points with 6 rebounds for the Eagles, while junior guard Zach Singer added 8 points and junior reserve forward Juwan Sisco scored 7 points – all coming in a third quarter that featured 10 lead changes.“I thought we got a really good lift from Sisco tonight,” said Eagles coach Pat McNamara. “He scored seven straight points and had a couple tough rebounds. I thought that was a big turning part in the game.”
Trailing 21-13 late in the second quarter, St. Edward finished the final minute of the first half with a 7-0 run, punctuated by Joseph French’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer, to trim its deficit to 21-20.
“We were very disjointed offensively in the first half – too much dribbling and too much standing around,” said the elder McNamara.
Aurora Christian, which will look to capture its second consecutive regional title against top-seeded IC Catholic Prep (21-6) Friday night, suffered a late scare when senior guard Johnathan Harrell (7 points, 8 rebounds) left the game with an undisclosed injury with 3:46 remaining.
Harrell, who was clutching his stomach on the first rung of the bleachers late in the fourth quarter, left by ambulance after the game to Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.
“He took an elbow or something to the stomach,” said the coach. “I’m not sure what happened but he looked bad. His eyes were all bloodshot.”
“When he came out, everybody was like, ‘wow,’ because he’s a very tough player,” said the younger McNamara. “He normally wouldn’t come out of the game. We’ve just got to pray for him and hope for the best right now.”
Logan Danner added 9 points for the Green Wave, who were without Danny Favela (foot injury) while season leading scorer Nick Duffy played sparingly in his first game back since early February due to illness.
“Nick has been out with mono the last three weeks or so,” said White, whose team posted its second straight 20-win campaign.
“This was a great group of kids,” added White. “I just wish we could have gotten a little bit more but nobody wants to end the season.”