Yorkville edges West Aurora in Suburban Prairie opener
There would not be a near-miraculous finish for West Aurora against Yorkville Tuesday night in its Southwest Prairie season opener.
In late January 2019, Kelvin Balfour drained a half-court shot at the buzzer the last time the schools met in a boys basketball game. But this time the Blackhawks' desperation 3-pointer missed the mark and the Foxes hung on for a 53-50 victory in Aurora.
John Holakovsky was not even the Yorkville coach last year, but was well aware of the Balfour miracle that, in a way, served as the runway for the Blackhawks late last season as the team would later become the lowest-seeded Class 4A school to win a regional.
"It wasn't going to go in this time," Holakovsky said.
Yorkville essentially dictated the flow of the first half by scoring 9 of the first 11 points. But the Blackhawks forged the first of three second-quarter ties with relentless action on the offensive backboards.
"We talked about that a lot at halftime," Holakovsky said of the West Aurora penchant for scoring on second-chance opportunities. "We have some undersized players."
West Aurora eventually landed three double-digit scorers on the night as Ty Rogers finished with a team-high 13 points; Isaiah Siler and Datavion McClain would add 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Blackhawks.
In critical situations after a 29-29 first-half tie, West Aurora missed enough point-blank shots for a week's worth of practices.
"We missed an awful lot of bunnies," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said.
The Blackhawks did not aid themselves either with 10 missed free throws.
"We missed 1-and-1s, so it was really like 14 or 15 missed free throws," Johnson noted.
"We have to focus and execute," said Rogers, who also had 8 rebounds in his varsity debut. "It's all mental for us."
West Aurora took its final lead of the game when Rogers opened the second-half scoring. Yorkville would land a haymaker, however, as Luke Hanson hit a 3-pointer to start a decisive 11-0 run. Nathan Kraus' 3-pointer concluded the unanswered burst.
West Aurora would fight and claw, only to fall short at the end.
Kraus led the Foxes with 13 points.
Hansen would add 9 points in addition to his playmaking skills. In a pivotal sequence, Hansen scored on the break after West Aurora had missed yet another easy one near the hoop.
"My teammates got me the ball," Hansen said. "They had the trust in me to score in transition."
"We had too many turnovers," Johnson said. "We knew it was going to be a sloppy game."