West Aurora beats Glenbard East for ninth straight
West Aurora did not escape Glenbard East with as easy a win over the host Rams as they got earlier this season, but the Blackhawks did stay red-hot and also untarnished in league play.
Each time it looked as if West Aurora (18-3, 11-0) might run away and hide, Glenbard East scratched its way back into the contest before eventually coming up on the short end of a 63-53 Upstate Eight Conference matchup in Lombard.
Blackhawks senior guard Traevon Brown led all scorers with 18 points in the game, but he was quick to point to key contributions from his team's reserves Friday night, namely Axel Motola, who had 11 points and 3 blocked shots off the bench.
"There were moments where the whole team was not in sync," said Brown, who had a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter but saved 11 of his points for the second half. "It seems like we did a lot better when Coach (Brian Johnson) made a lot of substitutions. But we all just pick each other up. There was no negative energy."
Glenbard East, which fell to 9-11 overall and 5-6 in conference, used a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter and close to within 49-41. But the first-place visitors seemed to drive quickly to the rim for baskets whenever they needed them most. Even so, the Rams did force 18 turnovers -- including 7 in the fourth quarter -- to make for a much more competitive game than the last meeting, which saw West Aurora prevail 73-51.
"We always say an ugly win is better than a pretty loss," added Brown, who hopes this year's team can make a run as impressive as last year's, when West Aurora rattled off 17 straight wins. Friday's victory was the team's ninth straight. "We might be able to break our streak from last year."
While Glenbard East made the Blackhawks sweat more this time around, coach Scott Miller knows his defense can't allow quite so many drives down the lane.
"We just talked a lot about defense," Miller said. "We've just got to get better on defense and the glass. We're proud of the way we battled, but we gave up too many layups."
Daron Hall paced the Rams with 17 points while adding 3 steals and a number of nice assists. Dean Cook had a team-high 8 points in the first half on his way to 15 points on the night, while Antonio Walker finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Glenbard East.
Johnson was impressed with the Rams' effort.
"Glenbard East does a great job of playing hard. And they played harder than us tonight and they caused a lot turnovers," he said. "When we decided that we were going to take it to the hoop instead of settling out on the arc, we were able to make more things happen."