Boys Basketball: Hot-shooting West Aurora downs Naperville CentralWest Aurora's Jayquan Lee steals the ball from Naperville Central's Ryan Antony Friday at in Aurora.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2011 10:35PM
Maybe it was the new lights in the West Aurora gym.
Coach Gordie Kerkman’s Blackhawks shot a blistering 71 percent (15-for-21) from the floor in the first half Friday in their home opener and 64 percent (25-for-39) for the game on the way to claiming a 71-59 DuPage Valley Conference decision over Naperville Central.
“It is a lot nicer,” Kerkman said of the new fixtures, which have removed the yellow tint to the facility. “The difference isn’t like night and day, but pretty close.”
So was his team’s play in the second half after they carried a 10-point lead into the break for the second week in a row. Sophomore guard Jontrel Walker torched the Redhawks for 11 first-quarter points and senior forward Juwan Starks had 11 in the second half as the hosts (5-1, 2-0) took a 44-34 lead at the break.
“Last week we didn’t come out with as much poise (in the second half against Wheaton Warrenville South) as we did this week. We had a lot of energy,” said Starks, who matched Walker with a game-high 18 points. Starks also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
West had to hit a game-winning shot late last week to secure the victory. This week, its lead was cut to 55-49 after three periods by Central but the Blackhawks pushed it back to 10 early in the fourth and maintained the margin the rest of the way.
Another key for West was keeping Central’s 6-foot-6 sophomore center Nick Czarnowski in check. He had just six points at the break and finished with a team-high 15. Fellow sophomores Austin Pauga and Ryan Antony came off the bench to score 14 and 13, respectively.
“We caught them on a tough night,” said Redhawks coach Pete Kramer. “You score 59 points you should have a chance to win the game, but not the way they shot. We’ve got some young kids and they’re learning.
“We talked at half about being more patient and I thought early in the third we were getting some good possessions. I don’t think we shot the ball too bad (45 percent for the game) but we settled for the perimeter too often.”
Central falls to 4-3 and 0-2 after facing defending DVC champ Glenbard East the opening weekend.
Stocky 6-1 Chandler Thomas drew the defensive assignment of Czarnowski, but he had plenty of help from his teammates.
“We tried to disguise it so the they didn’t know which way the help was coming from,” said Starks.
In the fourth quarter, 6-6 junior Josh McAuley came off the bench to spell Thomas and gave West a lift. He finished with four points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in a short period, scoring an important putback midway through the fourth that maintained the 10-point lead.
“Josh is a little longer and does a good job blocking shots,” said Kerkman. “He was sick last week and he’s had some back problems in the preseason so he’s not in his best basketball shape yet but he’ll get better.”
Spencer and Chandler Thomas and Jayquan Lee all finished with nine points apiece.
“That’s almost five guys in double figures,” said a pleased Kerkman.