Balfour's half-court shot stuns Yorkville
Kelvin Balfour had no other options.
The West Aurora senior had a single thought.
"I just have to get this shot up before the clock expires," Balfour said.
But it was the antithesis of an ordinary shot.
Balfour launched the ball on an incredibly high arc a step behind the timeline in the Blackhawks' Southwest Prairie Conference West game against Yorkville.
It what seemed an eternity for the ball to reach its final destination, the ball banked off the backboard and straight through the basket to give the Blackhawks a 48-47 victory Friday night in Aurora.
Hundreds of West Aurora students stormed the court to engulf Balfour in a delirious pandemonium.
"It was just crazy," said Balfour, whose only points in the game preceding the game-winning half-court-plus conversion came on a pair of free throws in the first quarter. "If I didn't make it, it probably would have been the worst game of my life. No. it would have been the worst game of my life."
The symmetry for West Aurora was almost divine. Balfour launched the ball only feet from Neal Ormand, the Blackhawks' iconic broadcaster since 1964, who was honored by the IHSA prior to the game.
Yorkville (9-13, 2-8) had fought back valiantly after enduring a nightmarish second quarter in which the Foxes failed to score after missing all 12 of their field-goal attempts while also committing half of their 10 first-half turnovers.
Zak Konecny scored on a perfectly executed backdoor layup with less than seven seconds to play in the game to give the Foxes a 47-45 lead.
It appeared with almost certainty that the Foxes' Cole Yearsley would emerge as the central storyline of the game for his game-high 19-point effort on five 3-pointers.
Yearsley stripped Balfour at midcourt and scored in transition to give Yorkville a 45-44 lead with 58 seconds to play.
Kenny Dyson, who finished with 12 points for West Aurora (7-16, 5-7), split two free throws with 43.9 seconds to play to forge the last of three ties.
"I was just watching it," Yearsley said of the Balfour bomb. "It was almost like a dream to be on the losing team. Props to him."
West Aurora led 22-12 at halftime after scoring the only 12 points of the second quarter.
"It's been the story of our season so far," Yearsley said of the Foxes' quarter-long dry spell. "We have that one quarter where things don't go our way."
The other major development for West Aurora was guard Isaiah Siler, who pumped in a team-high 17 points on four 3-pointers in his third game on varsity.
"I started feeling it," Siler said. "I got my first three and kept going. Kenny told me to keep going to the corner. That's my sweet spot."