Boys Basketball: Aurora Central gets injured players backPaul Kaminski (right) of Aurora Central Catholic looks to pass as he is guarded by Matt Rosenwinkel of Rochelle. Mar 4, 2011. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 12, 2012 7:15PM
They’re back, so things are looking up for Aurora Central.
Senior forwards Robert DeMyers and Paul Kaminski both returned from injury last Thursday to begin practicing with the Chargers again. DeMyers, a 6-foot-5 jumping jack, had been averaging 14.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 7.0 blocked shots and 3.0 assists when he went down Dec. 6 with a broken fibula in his leg.
Kaminski, who is 6-3, had been averaging 11.1 points when he suffered a dislocated thumb on Dec. 3 in a game against St. Francis.
“I think I got a lot smarter on Thursday,” deadpanned ACC coach Nate Drye, whose team is scheduled to play at Marian Central in Suburban Christian Conference Blue play Friday.
The Chargers travel to Whitney Young High School in Chicago on Saturday to meet Marshall at 8:15 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Shootout.
“Robert is probably at about 70-75 percent,” Drye said Thursday night. “The bone is fine, it’s just a matter of retraining the muscles after a month of pretty much inactivity. He’s got to strengthen those muscles and get back into game shape.
“He’s going to give it a go Friday and we’ll see how he feels after that. I hope we don’t get postponed Friday because I’d rather not have to have him face Marshall’s quickness in his first game back. And if he plays Friday but isn’t up to par for Saturday, I won’t hesitate to hold him out Saturday. We’ll just have to see how he responds and how much he can handle. I know one thing, having Robert at 75 percent is a lot better than not having him.”
Kaminski, too is raring to go after the long layoff, said Drye.
“Paul is 100 percent. His thumb is fine,” the coach said. “He’s been shooting it and looks good.”
The Chargers are 4-9, a record that could easily be reversed had DeMyers and Kaminski not been sidelined.
This is the fifth year Drye has taken the Chargers into the city for the MLK Shootout.
“It’s always been great,” he said. “Last year we played Bogan and we’ve played Hyde Park and Farragut before. It’s really good competition and it’s fun to see how you measure up.”
East gets lift from Gant
In East Aurora’s upset win over Neuqua Valley Wednesday night, it would be easy to point to Larry Reynolds’ 25 second-half points or DeJon Talbert’s early three-point barrage as reasons for the win.
But it was truly a team effort for the Tomcats to get their second win in what has been a difficult season so far. Nobody exemplified that team effort Wednesday more than sophomore Desmond Gant.
The 6-foot-3 forward was playing in his fifth varsity game since being promoted, and he made two huge plays to help the Tomcats fend off Neuqua.
The Wildcats had cut the lead to 38-37 late in the third quarter when Talbert answered with a driving layup. Gant then forced a steal on the ensuing possession and fed Steve Green for a layup.
The youngster followed by stealing the inbounds pass and got the ball to Reynolds, who converted a three-point play. The sequence helped stretch the lead back to eight points in a matter of seconds.
“I said if we’re going to have down year like this, we may as well throw a couple of sophomores out there,” East coach Wendell Jeffries said. “(Gant) rebounded well and did a nice job on defense.”
The numbers game
A quick check of the team stats submitted by coaches for our weekly area leaders listing finds eight players with 15 or more free throw attempts are connecting at an 80 percent clip or better.
Yorkville’s Derek Piszczek heads the list at .862. He’s made 25-of-29 free throw attempts. Oswego East’s C.J. Vaughan is second at .849 (45-of-53) with West Aurora’s Jayquan Lee third at .833 (20-of-24).
Rounding out the top five are Oswego’s Miles Simelton, 44-of-53 for .830, and East Aurora’s Mike McAllister, 13-of-16 for .813.
Others topping the .800 mark include Oswego East’s Kenny Battle Jr. (.812, 56-of-69), West Aurora’s Jontrel Walker (.807, 46-of-57) and Waubonsie Valley’s Jared Brownridge (.803, 57-of-71).
It takes a thief
So who is our best pick-pocket, so to speak?
Oswego guard Elliot McGaughy leads the pack, averaging 2.3 steals per game. He has 30 in 13 contests. Right behind, averaging 2.1 are West Aurora’s Juwan Starks (32 in 15 games), Oswego’s Thomas Wilder (23 in 11) and Geneva’s Ryan Willing (30 in 14). Oswego’s Ryan West (24 in 12) and East Aurora’s Mike McAllister (28 in 14) are right at 2.0 steals per game.
The Boat Show
Freshman Ryan Boatright and the University of Connecticut Huskies will play Notre Dame at 10 a.m. Saturday in South Bend, Ind., in a Big East Conference game, and several hundred people from Aurora are expected to be on hand to witness it.
It’s the closest to home the East Aurora graduate will play in the regular season. DePaul and Marquette, of course, are both in the Big East, but both play this season at UConn. With 16 teams in the league, its members don’t play a home-and-home.
Boatright has played in 10 games, all off the bench, but is averaging 26.4 minutes, which is fourth on the team. He’s averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists for coach Jim Calhoun’s 17th-ranked Huskies, who are 13-3 and 3-2 in the league coming off a 64-57 win over West Virginia earlier in the week.
The game will also be televised on ESPN2.
Paul Johnson contributed to this report.