2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/2/2018 11:29 PM

West Aurora claims regional hardware

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Jared Crutcher more than warranted his selection as the Fox Valley boys basketball all-area honorary captain Friday night in Plainfield.

The West Aurora senior post feasted on Andrew with 13 exclusively inside field goals in matching his career high with 28 points in the championship game of the Class 4A Plainfield South regional.

The Blackhawks simply had too much quickness and athleticism for the Thunderbolts in a 69-54 victory.

West Aurora erupted for 28 fourth-quarter points to advance to the Romeoville sectional on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks (23-4), the second seed in the complex, extended their winning streak to 15 games; No. 3 Lincoln-Way East, which downed Romeoville, awaits.

Seventh-seeded Andrew was eliminated with a 19-9 record.

"We realized this could be our last game," Crutcher said of the Blackhawks' sense of urgency in turning a 2-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter into an 18-point spread in the waning seconds.

Crutcher personally decided the outcome when Andrew center Mike DeHaan was substituted after picking up his fourth foul with nearly five minutes to play.

The Loras College recruit scored 9 consecutive team points.

"The coach (Brian Johnson) always makes sure I get the ball all the time," Crutcher said. "I take pride in that. I work on my moves along the baseline. I make myself available going to open spots."

The other telltale story of the game was the Blackhawks' dynamic athleticism, as always epitomized by two-time high jump state champion and Wyoming football recruit Camron Donatlan.

Of the Thunderbolts' 24 turnovers -- compared to nine for West Aurora -- 16 of the miscues were generated by steals.

The resulting thefts were more times than naught turned into easy buckets at the other end.

"Every possession counts when you're in the playoffs," said Donatlan, who had 18 points, largely courtesy of six of the Blackhawks' nine dunks. "We knew that if we put pressure on their ballhandlers, they would eventually turn it over."

"I think we tend to wear teams out," Johnson said. "It was a team effort. I'm pretty proud of how resilient we are."

The game started as a low-scoring tactical affair as Andrew scored 10 of the first 12 points.

"I think both teams were kind of feeling each other out," Andrew coach David Wilson said.

Crutcher and Donatlan scored 20 of the Blackhawks' 23 first-half points as West Aurora had a 3-point lead at the break.

Senior southpaw Damian Virgen -- after missing virtually the entire first half with foul issues -- scored 10 of his 12 points for West Aurora in the third quarter.

Troy Murphy scored 17 points to lead the Thunderbolts.

"Give West Aurora all the credit," Wilson said. "It is a wonderfully storied franchise. I have been following them for a long time."

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