Boys Basketball: West Aurora ‘D’ paves way for winWest Aurora's Juwan Starks eyes the basket against Wheaton North defender Isaac Oberlin at West Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012.
| Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2012 12:27AM
When West Aurora fell behind by nine points in the first quarter of Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference tilt with Wheaton North, the Blackhawks used a tried-and-true method to get back into the game.
West turned up the defense, which led to offense, and led to another DVC win, 68-54.
The Falcons jumped out to a 17-8 lead, but West didn’t allow a field goal in the second quarter and carried a 27-20 lead into the half and never looked back.
“We just picked up our defense,” said West sophomore Jontrel Walker, who sparkled with a game-high 19 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists. “We got a stop, pushed, scored offensively and got easy transition points. Every time they scored, we just tried to come back.”
The loss of the lead for Wheaton North (4-9, 1-3) coincided with the loss of point guard Ryan Jordan in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Without their floor general, the Falcons struggled to get back into the game.
They did make a couple of late runs, however. Six-foot-11 center Andrew Zelis scored 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter and the Falcons cut the lead to 32-27 at one point. West senior star Juwan Starks (16 points) was also out of the game with foul trouble, but instead of losing the lead, the Blackhawks (12-2, 4-0) added to it with Starks on the bench.
“They proved tonight that they’re a team,” Wheaton North coach Jim Nazos said. “They’re a lot more than just Juwan Starks. They have some guys that can shoot and make plays.”
Brandon Gossett, who scored 14 points off the bench, scored on a driving lay-up and hit a three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer to push the lead back out to 49-35.
Wheaton North cut the lead to five twice in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer. A late 10-0 run that was punctuated by a Starks dunk put the game away for good. Starks got his 16 points in economical fashion, fending off the defense of Isaac Oberlin to shoot 6-for-8 from the field. The Blackhawks had 24 points off the bench to help him out, as well.
“I probably get criticized for this, that (Starks) doesn’t get more points, but that’s sort of the way we play,” West coach Gordie Kerkman said. “We’re looking for a balanced attack. I’d much rather have that balanced scoring than have some guy getting 30 all the time and everybody else standing around watching.”
Sam Otto scored 14 points for Wheaton North, while Matt Biegalski added 12 off the bench.