Uplift ends Aurora Christian's season in sectional semifinals
Aurora Christian could not have asked for a better way to start Tuesday night's Class 2A sectional basketball semifinal game against Chicago-Uplift.
With 6-foot-6 junior guard-forward Will Wolfe knocking down his first 4 field-goal attempts, the Eagles burst to a 10-1 lead midway through the opening quarter before a frenzied home crowd. Then Uplift (15-11) struck with an upper cut of sorts.
Senior guard DeAndre Vortes (15 points) and junior backcourt reserve Taijay Brown (11 points) helped ignite a 19-0 surge that propelled the Titans to a 26-18 halftime advantage.
From there, Uplift poured in 46 second-half points, thwarting any hopes of an Aurora Christian comeback during its 72-60 victory in Aurora.
"We knew coming in that if they turned us over we were going to be in a world of hurt -- and they turned us over," said Eagles coach Dan Beebe. "It went from 10-1 to 20-10 right away. We scratched and clawed the rest of the way from there but we could never overcome that 19-0 run."
Playing without DePaul commit Markese Jacobs for the ninth straight game due to a torn ACL, Uplift displayed its superior quickness and balance with 4 players reaching double figures.
Senior forward Tavion Underwood paced the Titans with 23 points and 5 rebounds while also drawing a tough defensive assignment against the Eagles' Wolfe.
"Our whole game plan was to slow Will (Wolfe) down," said Uplift coach David Taylor. "We scouted them and know he's a shot taker. Tavion (Underwood) did a pretty good job. In the first quarter, not so much but quarters two through four, I thought he did a pretty good lockdown job on Wolfe."
Wolfe, playing on a sprained knee, finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
"It (leg) was hurting but the adrenaline was flowing," said Wolfe. "I was ready to play right from the start."
The Eagles (24-8) couldn't overcome 17 turnovers and several missed shots near the rim.
"It was something we weren't completely ready for but it's something we've got to work on to get ready for next year," Wolfe said of the Titans' speed.
"When you're going up and there's a lot of traffic -- there's guys right there with you," said Beebe. "We're normally making them but for whatever reason tonight we didn't."
Junior guard Taaj Davis scored all 22 of his team-leading points in the second half for the Eagles while sophomore guard Jaehshon Thomas added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"We knew we'd have to play well," said Beebe. "We started out well but unfortunately we didn't play well the rest of the game. A lot of credit goes to them (Uplift). It wasn't our best game tonight and you're not going to win against Chicago-Uplift doing that.
"Uplift's record does not indicate the talent that they have and how good they are."
Greg Ruben added 12 points for the Titans, who will face 2-time defending Class 2A state champion Orr in Friday's sectional championship.