West Aurora tops Willowbrook for 8th straight win
Willowbrook boys basketball coach Chris Perkins acknowledged his players were leg weary in the second half of Saturday's 78-66 loss to West Aurora at Batavia's Night of Hoops.
He also acknowledged his team would have had trouble dealing with West Aurora seniors Jared Crutcher and Camron Donatlan even if the Warriors hadn't played an emotional, televised conference game against Proviso East less than 24 hours earlier and 14-win Larkin three days before that.
Crutcher, a 6-foot-5 forward committed to Loras College, finished with 27 points, one shy of his career high, and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Donatlan, a 6-3 guard committed to Wyoming for football and track, finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists as West Aurora (16-4), the top-ranked team in the Daily Herald Top 20, extended its winning streak to eight.
"This was a difficult week for us and I feel we kind of ran out of gas there at the end, but that wasn't the reason we lost," said Perkins, whose third-ranked team slipped to 18-4. "I mean, they're really good. They're really good. The one-two punch with (Donatlan) and (Crutcher), that was a lot to overcome. They were active, they were aggressive and defensively they took us out of some of the things that we were trying to do offensively with their length and their size."
West Aurora, which blew out Glenbard East by 36 a night earlier, led 38-33 at the half and opened the third quarter with a 15-1 run to gain separation.
Crutcher ignited the push with a putback and an inside bucket on a feed from Donatlan, and Donatlan capped it with a pair of fast-break buckets. His breakaway dunk off a Willowbrook turnover gave the Blackhawks their biggest lead at 53-34 with 3:17 left in the third quarter.
"Both of them are playing at a really high level," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said.
Willowbrook fought its way back into the game with a 15-4 run. It began with a late-third-quarter putback from 6-foot-6 senior Ethan Schuemer, who finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds going head to head against Crutcher, who plays for the same AAU organization.
The Warriors drew within 70-63 on a 3-pointer by sophomore call-up Everett Stubblefield with 4:31 left in the game. He scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.
"They just kept trapping us and forcing us to get in the corners," Crutcher said. "That's where most of our turnovers happened. Coach was telling us to stay out of it and work the ball around and play comfortable."
The Blackhawks answered with a 6-0 run to rebuild the lead to 13. It included a pair of Moshe Rogers free throws, a second-chance jumpshot by point guard Trae Brown and a basket in the lane from senior guard Damian Virgen, who finished with 14 points.
Second-chance points heavily favored the Blackhawks, thanks to a 42-17 rebounding advantage. That offset West Aurora's 24 turnovers.
"We still forced them to commit 24 turnovers, so we were right there," Perkins said. "We just didn't have the legs to convert at the other end after a week like this. But we went 2-1 against three really good teams so overall we're pleased."
Junior guard Matas Masys scored 15 points for Willowbrook, which had its 8-game winning streak snapped.