Aurora Christian enjoys that super feeling again
Aurora Christian literally faced a tall task in Friday's Class 1A Harvest Christian sectional title game against Chicago Hope Academy.
The Eagles, with no starter over 6-foot-1, needed to contain 6-foot-7 senior center William Schultz.
Aurora Christian's accurate shooting countered Schultz' 22 points as the Eagles won 84-67 to claim their first sectional title since 2016.
The Eagles will meet Indian Creek, winners of the River Ridge sectional, in Monday's supersectional at Northern Illinois University.
Aurora Christian connected on 28 of 55 (51%) field goals. Their accuracy from beyond the arc was even better, draining 13 of 22 (60%).
"Our goal for (Schultz) was 15 points. If we did that we would have a pretty good chance," said Aurora Christian coach Dave Beebe. "He's the one that makes them go."
It was a close contest in the first half. The Eagles led by three after the first quarter, 20-17, and six at the half, 35-29. Aurora Christian broke it open in the second half.
"I thought we shot the ball well in the second half. We starting making quite a few 3s which broke the press a little bit and then we got some easy baskets around the lane," Beebe said. "And we defended well. The shots they hit were tough shots but we defended well all night."
Aurora Christian (24-6) outscored Chicago Academy 24-11 in the third quarter to take a 59-40 lead at the start of the final frame.
"It was like the bottom fell out. It happens. We have been up and down all season. This is a young group of guys," said Chicago Hope coach Antwon Johnson. "They fought hard but when you don't have the experience down the stretch, you've got to find a level of consistency."
The Eagles had a balanced attack with all five starters scoring in double figures. Taaj Davis led all scorers with 26 points. Teammate Danny New chipped in 18.
"We gained energy at halftime and got it going in the second half," said New, who also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Daniel Walker scored 14, Karsen Olsen notched 14 and Jabri Sisco tallied 12.
The Eagles took care of the ball, committing only six turnovers.
"We emphasize good ball control especially against a team like that," Beebe said. "They can turn you over pretty quick. I said if they turn us over we are going to be in big trouble."
Tyrell Hilton scored 12 points for Hope Academy (22-11), a private school on Chicago's near west side. Schultz, a Wisconsin Whitewater commit, grabbed 12 rebounds.