VanderWal's 32 lifts Timothy Christian over Aurora Christian
Ben VanderWal wasn't apparently quite content with letting the ink dry on his signature performance.
The 6-foot-7 Timothy Christian senior had a few more plays to make.
VanderWal sunk a three-pointer with 1:10 left to give the Trojans a two-point lead. Then he capped off his 32-point, 11-rebound game with two free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining, clinching the Trojans' 56-52 win at Aurora Christian to sweep the season series in the Metro Suburban Blue.
The Furman recruit relished the moment to clinch the win.
"It's where you want to be [on the line]," VanderWal said. "If you're a player who loves the game and loves to win, you want to have a chance to win the game for your team. If you can do that at the free-throw line, you're going to do that at the free-throw line. I was just happy to get the opportunity, go up there and knock them in."
VanderWal showed confidence in himself to make his shots. But he also impacted the game with strong interior passing ability to find open teammates for looks at the basket.
"Tonight, he did a really nice job of finding some guys," Trojans coach Scott Plaisier said. "When he has the basketball -- especially when he puts it on the floor -- all attention goes to him. He had a couple really nice looks of interior passes [and] had a couple of other guys that hit for threes. He can score with some of that physical contact as well."
VanderWal's three with 1:10 left is an example of that confident scoring ability.
"We were just running our regular motion action and see if we can get something out of it and then call a set," Plaisier said. "He ended up getting a pretty good look on that wing. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and just to trust that you can make those things at that time of the game."
Following VanderWal's three, Aurora Christian (14-5, 5-3) missed a turnaround jumper in the lane with 35 seconds left. On the ensuing inbound for Timothy Christian (11-14, 7-2), a turnover was forced to give the Eagles another chance, but they came up with a pair of misses from Jabari Sisco (12 points, six rebounds) and Cam Morel (five points).
Timothy Christian's Kyle Steiner split two free throws to extend the lead to three with 16 seconds left and. Aurora Christian's Drew Meyers (10 points), who hit a game-winning shot in the final seconds to beat Riverside-Brookfield last Friday, missed what could have been a tying three with four seconds left. Steiner, again, had a chance to pad the lead, but missed both free throws with 3.2 seconds left.
Morel split two free throws in response for the Eagles, but VanderWal finished the job.
"I think both teams played well. It was a good high school game. They hit one more shot than we did and that's why [VanderWal] is an all-state player," Eagles coach Dan Beebe said. "I was proud of our kids. I thought we scrapped and did a lot of good things. I'm pleased with everything, but the result."
The Eagles were missing starting point guard Danny New, who suffered an ankle sprain against Riverside-Brookfield. New's return for the near future is uncertain.
In his place, junior guard Calvin Washington impressed with 17 points and four rebounds.
"He can score. He can score in bunches," Beebe said. "He got his opportunity and he showed what he can do. He started earlier in the year when McCade [Weber] was out with an injury. Washington does a good job and I was glad to see him step up like that."
Glenbard West on ESPN +:
Glenbard West, fresh off its biggest win of the season, is apparently about to get a national spotlight.
The Class 4A No. 1-ranked Hilltoppers will play California school Sierra Canyon -- a team that features the son of NBA star LeBron James -- in a game Feb. 5 at Wintrust Arena, according to a tweet Monday from the President of Paragon Marketing Group.
The game is slated for an 8 p.m. tip, preceded by a 6 p.m. game between Glenbrook South and Curie. Both games are to be streamed on ESPN+.
Glenbard West (22-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 4A since the preseason, on Saturday beat fifth-ranked Young 74-59 behind 31 points from Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff and 25 from Princeton commit Caden Pierce.
With the win, the Hilltoppers are now ranked 21st in the nation by ESPN. Sierra Canyon (19-2), from Chatsworth, Calif., north of Los Angeles, is ranked 11th.
Headlining Sierra Canyon is 6-foot-3 junior guard Bronny James, the son of NBA star LeBron James. Bronny James is the 52nd-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports.
James is Sierra Canyon's biggest name, but he isn't its biggest star. That would be Amari Bailey, a 6-foot-5 combo guard and UCLA recruit rated the No. 2 player in the Class of 2022. Isaiah Elohim, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, has offers from Kansas, UCLA and Oregon.
-- Joshua Welge
-- ----Bailey scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds in his second game back from injury in an 81-49 win over Young at the Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo. Jan. 14.
According to a report from Michael O'Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times, Glenbard West was originally scheduled to play Kenwood and Sierra Canyon play Simeon in the game Feb. 5 at Wintrust, but that lineup fell through. The Glenbard West-Sierra Canyon matchup apparently came together over the last 48 hours. A local coach who has played Glenbard West said that he received a request for film from Sierra Canyon at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Glenbard West on Monday tweeted that it would share ticket information when available.