East Aurora subdues Blackhawks in 228th meeting
History was not on the side of the East Aurora boys basketball team Saturday night.
The Tomcats had not defeated archrival West Aurora on the Blackhawks' home court since December of 1993 and had dropped the last eight meetings between the schools in the historic series.
Jacques Kelly, however, came through when it mattered for the Tomcats.
Kelly capped a 9-point unanswered run with a thunderous dunk, and the Blackhawks' largest lead of the game was vanquished in the process as East Aurora won matchup No. 228 51-44 at West High.
"We are making good passes and playing together," Kelly said of the last of his game-high 14 points with the dramatic throwdown that gave the Tomcats a 44-39 lead. "It will keep us sound in future games."
The Tomcats improved to 12-7 with the nonconference victory as three-time reigning regional champion West Aurora dropped to 6-13.
The Blackhawks had overcome a frigid game-long collective shooting performance from the field.
West High missed 16 of their 18 3-point attempts for the game as the Tomcats scored 19 of the first 29 points of the game to take their largest lead.
But the Blackhawks whittled their deficit to a mere point at the intermission with an 11-2 run to end the second quarter.
"Our guys played really hard," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said.
Jonathan Dowd and Axel Motola combined for four putbacks in the fourth quarter for the Blackhawks.
Kelvin Balfour, who tied Motola for team-scoring honors with 13 points, had split trips at the free-throw line on consecutive possessions to give the Blackhawks a 43-39 lead.
"Once we got the 4-point lead, we started taking bad shots and turning the ball over," Balfour said. "We shot ourselves in the foot."
East Aurora guard Amarion Savage drained a long 3-pointer to slice the West cushion to one.
Kelly then gave the Tomcats the lead for good on an inside score to make it 40-39.
The Kelly dunk in traffic came after Savage extended the East Aurora lead to three at the free-throw line.
East Aurora gave legendary alumnus Ricky Robinson his first win as a coach in the series by closing out the game with free throws.
"If we don't make those free throws, we don't win the game," Robinson said.
"It was poor execution down the stretch," Johnson said of the Blackhawks' nemesis. "If we want to win these close games, we have to execute better."
Kenny Dyson came off the pines to give West Aurora a spark with 8 points.
Savage and Tarone Krikwood had 12 and 10 points, respectively, for East Aurora.
In the schools' girls preliminary, Riley Mont connected on three 3-pointers in leading the Blackhawks to a 44-41 win.
In her third game back from a prolonged foot injury, Mont had a team-high 15 points for West High (16-5).
Izzy Lambert complemented Mont with 13 points; Tatiana Ocasio had a game-best 16 points for East High (9-12).