St. Charles North rebounds vs. West Aurora
Neither Ned Hayes nor Max Love had much interest in another devastating loss as the boys basketball regular-season begins its final stages.
In the second game of the Ernie Kivisto Hoopfest Saturday afternoon at East Aurora, St. Charles North never trailed in its 59-48 victory over West Aurora.
The North Stars were coming off a gut-wrenching one-point DuKane Conference loss to city rival St. Charles East the night before.
"We had a game that didn't go well," Love said. "We knew we had to bounce back. The best thing was we had a game today."
"I went to bed angry (Friday) night," Hayes said. "Seeing that first shot go in got me off."
Both teams -- well-versed with each other after spending the holidays in Pontiac -- featured balanced attacks with three players in double figures.
But it was the North Stars who never relinquished command of the game when Hayes drained three 3-pointers in the first half.
Love epitomized the North Stars' resolve on the glass as the determination at both ends enabled St. Charles North to secure an early second-quarter double-figure lead which West Aurora would never quite surmount.
"We got a lot of points off second-chance points," Hayes said of a tried-and-true formula for success in the sport.
West Aurora coach Brian Johnson noticed another luxury.
"They have shooters," Johnson said.
St. Charles North led 28-17 at halftime after Hayes, Love and Ethan Marlowe combined for all their first-half offensive production.
Hayes would finish with a team-high 17 points; Love and Marlowe were in close pursuit with 15 each.
Not only were the North Stars able to extend their influence well into the third quarter, taking a 38-21 lead on Justin Hughes' putback, but their defensive efforts were equally confusing to the Blackhawks (14-13).
"I could tell they scouted a lot of actions that we were running," said West Aurora guard Josh Pickett, who led both teams with 19 points.
The ascendant sophomore had to earn his game-high total, though.
"It was a lot harder to get open," Pickett said.
The North Stars (13-12) would be tested, however, as West Aurora found an extra gear to close out the third quarter.
The West Aurora inability to clear its defensive glass was reversed as Ty Rogers and Terrence Smith spearheaded a last-gasp effort to turn the tide.
Smith, the freshman rapidly making a name for himself in area circles, and Rogers, the Blackhawks' senior mainstay, would ultimately combine for 30 points as the former had 16.
But Marlowe stopped all the Blackhawks' momentum with a key block down the stretch and Love had a dunk in the waning seconds to accentuate the North Stars' win.
"I thought the difference was we came out extremely flat," Johnson said. "I don't know if we were 100 percent focused."