Losing two-year starting point guard Mac Cowen to hip surgery before the season started, it took Aurora Central Catholic time to recover, and the Chargers started the year slowly at 2-6.
They have been steadily playing better basketball ever since, and that continued Monday night with a 61-41 nonconference victory over Plano -- their eighth win in their last 10 games.
"Every game we have to keep improving, keep improving," Chargers guard Brett Czerak said. "I think we've showed that the last couple weeks."
Czerak, a junior who scored his 1,000th point Jan. 29 against Glenbard South, was part of a balanced attack against Plano (13-9). He and Nick Faltz both scored 13 points, while Evan Schuetz and Kyle Czerak finished with 11.
Aurora Central Catholic (12-9) led 29-21 at halftime, then put the game away by holding the Reapers to 3 third-quarter points.
"We have a lot of guys on the team who can score the ball and I think we showed that tonight," Czerak said. "It really helps our team out when we get a lot of guys rolling like that."
It was Shuetz on a roll early, scoring 7 points and blocking 3 shots in the opening quarter. Brett Czerak's pullup jumper from the baseline put the Chargers ahead to stay, 9-8, and a Shuetz putback and a steal and layup from Faltz increased the margin to 13-8 after a quarter.
Faltz provided a big spark off the bench not just with his 13 points but 3 steals and a block as part of an active 2-3 zone defense that succeeded in taking away penetration by Plano point guard Dahveed McKinney.
"I thought the middles and tops were active keeping him out of the lane," Chargers coach Nate Drye said. "Taking away dribble penetration was key.
"Nick did a great job. He gives us great energy and scoring off the bench. He gives us a nice burst when he comes in there. He was active on both ends of the floor, got some rebounds, got some blocks, got some baskets."
Kyle Czerak gave the Chargers a boost going into the locker room with a corner 3-pointer just before the second quarter buzzer off a drive and dish by Donovan Reid. Brett Czerak opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to put the Chargers up by double-digits.
The lead continued to grow, reaching 44-24 when Brett Czerak closed the third quarter with another triple. The highlight of the quarter came when Shuetz blocked his fourth shot, Faltz gathered the ball and quickly threw long down the court to Jake Bush who scooped the ball in under pressure.
The Reapers, meanwhile, made just 1 of 10 shots in the quarter. They never got closer than 19 points in the fourth.
"Offensively we were just stagnant and didn't play with a lot of energy," Plano coach Kyle Kee said. "And when you don't play with a lot of energy you are going to struggle especially against a good team like them."
Brett Czerak drained his third 3-pointer midway through the fourth before Drye turned to his reserves. Dylan Baker and Sam Vinson scored baskets to close out the scoring.
Czerak downplayed his recent milestone as he and his teammates get ready for a big challenge Tuesday against Riverside-Brookfield.
"I think it's more of a team thing than anything," Czerak said. "You can't do it (1,000 points) without a great group of guys around you. It's a real testament to the guys we have here."