Boys Basketball: Waukegan weathers East Aurora rally
Waukegan’s boys basketball team used its defensive pressure to race out to an early 16-point lead against the host Tomcats at East Aurora’s second annual Ernie Kvisto Hoopfest Saturday.
It turned out to be a good thing they did.
The scrappy Tomcats hung around; cutting the lead to four at one point in the fourth quarter, but Waukegan’s early hot start was enough to lead the Bulldogs to a 70-63 win.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t stay with it,” Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw said. “We got a little too cutesy. We’re starting to emerge as a team, but we’re not good enough. We’re still in our conference hunt, right behind New Trier. We can’t compete for a league title until we’re more consistent offensively.”
The Bulldogs (11-8) sure looked like a legit contender early on, taking a 28-12 lead by the middle of the second quarter. An 8-0 run to start the second, fueled by a Devonte Taylor dunk off a steal and a Jordan Johnson lay-in off another steal, helped provide that margin.
But East Aurora (2-18) fought back, cutting the margin to nine, 36-27, at the half.
“We showed a little maturity tonight,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “We were playing a little unsure in the first half. When we made the run in the second quarter, it built our confidence and we felt like we could play with them.”
Waukegan stretched the lead back out to 14 in the third, but East guard DeJon Talbert caught fire to help the Tomcats crawl back into the game once again. He drilled three three-pointers in the third, and his three from the wing to start the fourth quarter cut the lead to 52-48.
Waukegan answered with a 9-2 burst, however, and the closest East Aurora got was five points in the closing seconds.
“His kids play really hard and that kid (Talbert) got really hot,” Ashlaw said. “Individuals seem to find themselves against us. We get a little lost defensively at times.”
Larry Reynolds was one player who found himself for East Aurora, scoring a game-high 26 points. Talbert added 20, 16 in the second half, for the Tomcats. Taylor and Akeem Springs each scored 18 to lead Waukegan. Quintin Davis added 16.
East Aurora honored its 1972 team that placed third in the state prior to the game.
“I think that actually motivated our guys a little bit,” Jeffries said. “I said, ‘Hey, here are these guys that played here 40 years ago, they got third in the state, they’re here to watch you play.’ I think they wanted to play well in front of them.”