DeKalb's red-hot 3-point shooting sinks St. Charles North
Tyler Westberg turned to the crowd and held his pointer finger to his mouth, as if to shush it.
Westberg, DeKalb's senior guard, had just made his fifth consecutive 3-pointer of the third quarter. It was one snapshot of the blistering 3-point shooting the Barbs showcased Friday on their way to a 74-57 win over St. Charles North in the Class 4A Hampshire regional final.
The Barbs, in winning their first regional title since 2010, shot an unconscious 18-for-26 from beyond the arc to spoil St. Charles North's bid for a third consecutive regional title.
"We've been shooting [the three] well all year," Westberg said following his 29-point effort, which included 9-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc. "Darrell [Island] had [some] big few shots in the first quarter. I saw him in the gym before the game form shooting. Me and a freshman were on the gun getting ready for the game."
DeKalb (24-9) will face Rockford Auburn in the sectional semifinal hosted at Huntley at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Lane McVicar, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, had a bit of a personal edge to Friday's matchup. As a sophomore and playing for South Elgin at the time, the North Stars bested McVicar and the Storm for the regional title.
"To play [North] my senior year and beat them, it feels great," McVicar said. "That was something that was on my shoulder the whole time."
Island finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Sean Reynolds had 13 points and five rebounds.
DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds was waiting for the offensive barrage to all click at the right moment.
"We were waiting for it. We've had some [games] where two of our shooters have clicked; we had that against Waubonsie [Valley] a couple times," Reynolds said. "But we've never had three or four. Tonight, we had three or four. It becomes hard to guard and we thought that was kind of the offensive team we were at points this year, but it was nice to put it together for four quarters."
The North Stars cut the deficit to 10 at one point, but a Westberg three -- his sixth of the game at 3:42 in the third quarter at that point -- took the starch out of St. Charles North's comeback.
The North Stars (16-15) still appeared a little stunned exiting the locker room.
Was the three-point barrage expected based on film and preparation?
"No," North Stars seniors Ethan Marlowe and Ned Hayes agreed.
"We were just trying to keep them out of the lane, keep them from getting down," said Marlowe, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
"It's frustrating, especially when you play good defense [inside] and he's knocking them in like he is. He's got a hand in his face and it's frustrating to see them go in," said Hayes, who finished with seven points and five rebounds.
North Stars coach Tom Poulin thought "quite a few" of those attempts were contested.
"I've never seen anything like it," Poulin said. "I've been in this sport since I was in third grade. I've never seen a team shoot like that. I'd be disappointed if it was like: 'Man, we were nowhere around them'. The only thing was, once we decided to start trying to run them off the line, we didn't get to that point. They still were able to get them off, so that's just a credit to their execution."
Max Love, who had 28 points in the regional semifinal against South Elgin, was limited to 11 points. Jude Love had two points and five rebounds.
"First of all, this senior class is special as I've had as far as people go," Poulin said. "It just seems like yesterday they were freshmen, we're in the gym in the fall working and I was getting to know them. Now I feel like I got just a bunch of great young men. They've grown up into great young men; outstanding people and that's the most important thing."
Oswego East 63, West Aurora 55:
Whatever Ryan Velasquez's halftime message is, he needs to market it.
Throughout a record-breaking season, Velasquez and Oswego East have been a notorious second-half team. The Wolves also seem to possess the knack of winning close games.
Both patterns continued Friday.
Oswego East held West Aurora scoreless for a four-minute stretch in the third quarter, flipping a four-point halftime deficit.
The Wolves rode that, and a huge edge at the free-throw line, to a hard-fought 63-55 win over West Aurora in the Class 4A Joliet Central regional final.
DeVon Oregon scored 19 points, Darren Oregon had nine points and Mekhi Lowery nine points and 10 rebounds for Oswego East (32-1), which won the program's third regional title.
West Aurora (17-14), which only lost by one in the teams' first regular-season meeting, took the fight to the Wolves in the first half.
Freshman Terrence Smith, who joined the Blackhawks' starting lineup when senior Chris Stinson went down after the East Aurora game, led the charge. The 6-foot-3 wing scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, his thunderous dunk in transition giving West Aurora its biggest lead, 30-23.
It was 31-27 at half.
"I hope his name gets out there after a game like tonight," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said. "He's been doing it ever since he's been a starter."
The Blackhawks still led 36-35 after Kenyon Weekley split two free throws with 4:56 left in the third quarter, but at the other end Darren Oregon tipped in a Lowery miss to give Oswego East the lead for good.
West Aurora, with six turnovers in the third quarter, went scoreless for 4:18. DeVon Oregon's three-point capped off a 10-2 run to close the third quarter with Oswego East ahead 45-38.
The third quarter has been West Aurora's nemesis season-long, Johnson lamented.
"You can't go four or five minutes without getting a score no matter how many stops you get," Johnson said. "They'll break through and get buckets. They're a great team. I thought we played hard."
Sophomore Josh Pickett added 12 points for West Aurora.
-- Joshua Welge