2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/3/2017 11:13 PM

West Aurora rallies past Neuqua Valley

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Neuqua Valley was in prime position for a second straight Class 4A Plainfield North regional upset Friday night.

But the Wildcats would succumb over the last six-plus minutes to the unrelenting defensive pressure that has become a playoff hallmark for the West Aurora boys basketball team.

The Blackhawks, the fifth seed, advanced to the Lincoln-Way East sectional on Tuesday by scoring 23 of the last 31 points in the teams' championship game.

With its 64-54 victory -- the largest spread of the game -- West Aurora (21-8) will face top-seeded Bolingbrook.

Thirteenth-seeded Neuqua Valley bowed out at 15-16.

"(Turnovers have) been a major issue (all season)," Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton said. "Major. We had 24 turnovers. You can't the turn the ball over. You can't guard a breakaway layup."

West Aurora junior standout Camron Donatlan was directly responsible for much of the Wildcats' misplays as the forward garnered a staggering 10 steals.

Donatlan scored 9 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as West Aurora rallied from a 46-41 deficit.

"I read the passes a lot," Donatlan said. "I read their eyes. I was a safety. That's why the coach (Brian Johnson) put me back there."

Neuqua Valley had taken a 46-41 after Blaise Meredith hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

Playing in his final game, the Wildcats' guard scored 15 of his team-high 17 points after halftime.

But the Blackhawks would respond with a 7-2 run as a Donatlan drive produced the final tie.

DaVion Cross' free throws on the ensuing possession gave West Aurora the lead for good as a Donatlan breakaway dunk off the last of his double-digits in thefts extended the Blackhawks' run to 15-2.

Neuqua Valley would never come within 5 points the remainder of the game.

Cross was also prominently featured in the Blackhawks' offensive attack.

The senior guard scored 9 points on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter with a 3-point play and two 3-pointers.

"I won the 3-point contest," said Cross, who finished with 18 points. "I felt good from there. I just made good shots."

But Cross' personal run was severely undercut by Neuqua Valley senior Nathan Scott.

The Wildcats' forward scored 10 of his 14 points off putbacks to complement the play of Meredith.

"They were huge plays," Sutton said of the 6 second-chance points Scott scored in the third quarter. "We needed them."

But his would-be starring role was eclipsed in the waning minutes.

"West Aurora is known for their (defensive) aggressiveness," Scott said. "They just got after us, and we couldn't handle their pressure."

The Blackhawks led 25-21 at halftime in a game that was offensively glacial to begin.

Jared Crutcher had 10 points for West Aurora.

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