At the season's outset, Juwan Starks said, West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman told his team he believed they could reach a supersectional.
Give the man a crystal ball.
The Blackhawks beat Metea Valley 69-61 in Friday's Class 4A East Aurora sectional final. West Aurora (25-5) advances to the Hinsdale Central supersectional at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against 30-0 Proviso East, a 78-39 winner over Schaumburg.
A few things got West Aurora past hungry upstart Metea Valley.
"Probably motivation. We really wanted this," said senior forward Starks.
"Defense and rebounding, those two things right there," said Blackhawks point guard Jontrel Walker, who scored a team-high 22 points to Starks' 18. Metea (25-5) was led by Kenny Obendorf's game-high 25 points, followed by Ryan Solomon with 11.
Defense and rebounding never get old for Kerkman, who won his 11th sectional title and the school's 19th overall.
"We listen to our coach and we just go out there and try to prove him right," Walker said.
Metea made 22 of 62 shots from the field and West Aurora held a 35-28 rebounding edge. The Blackhawks also made 22 of 44 shots and 23 of 33 free throws.
"Obviously, it stings right now," Obendorf said. "It's a big game and we wanted it really bad. But I couldn't have asked for any greater guys to play with than the 16 we put out there and the seven seniors that we had."
Despite his pair of 3s in an 8-point first quarter, West Aurora led 12-11 and took the lead for good, 19-16, on Chandler Thomas' inside basket from a Starks pass.
Shooting 7 of 10 for the quarter, West Aurora closed the second half on an 8-4 run for a 29-21 halftime lead.
"It got away from us a little bit on our defensive end and how good (Walker) was reading at what we wanted to do and then executing on their end," said Metea coach Bob Vozza.
West Aurora took its first double-digit lead when center Josh McAuley rejected a shot and then scored on the other end for a 32-21 lead.
Threes by Solomon and Sean Davis and two by Obendorf kept the Mustangs within 40-33 by 3:08 of the third quarter only to see West Aurora enjoy a mini-run, capped by a Starks pull-up jumper, to extend the lead to 46-33.
"It seemed like every time they hit a basket they weren't making up enough ground. We'd come back and answer all the time," Kerkman said.
Metea again cut it to 46-37 entering the fourth quarter, but as they came out missing quickly launched 3s West Aurora posted leads of 54-41 with 4:05 left to play and 60-46 with 1:41 remaining.
Metea made one last-ditch effort to pull within 66-59 with 27 seconds left when LaShawn Cargo and Parker hit 3s within eight seconds of each other.
West Aurora clinched it as Walker made his eighth-straight fourth-quarter free throw. Teammate Spencer Thomas, Chandler's twin, finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds.
Next season, Metea players from a 20-3 sophomore squad will complement returnees like Davis and Shiv Desai to try to finish what these seniors started.
"They built this, they put us on the map," Vozza said. "I couldn't be prouder, couldn't be happier and couldn't be lucky enough to have coached them for the past few years. I hope and expect for them to come back, and I will never forget this senior group."