Boys basketball: West Aurora downs Oswego in sectional thriller
By Rick Armstrong email@example.com March 6, 2013 9:20PM
West Aurora players celebrate their 61-60 sectional victory over Oswego Wednesday night. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
West Aurora 61, Oswego 60
Benet vs. Neuqua Valley, 7:30 p.m.
West Aurora vs. TBD,
The Last 5
Oswego record in last five years under coach Kevin Schnable:
School year W-L
Total 114-37 (.755)
Oswego was playing in only its fifth sectional tournament dating back to the 1939-40 season. The Panthers previously won regionals in 1973-74, 1984-85, 2008-09 and 2009-10.
In contrast, West Aurora is playing in its 22nd sectional since Gordie Kerkman became coach in the 1976-77 season. This is his 36th season and the Blackhawks are shooting for their 12 sectional title in his tenure.
Updated: April 8, 2013 7:55AM
Pick and roll — the most basic of plays that every player learns upon starting organized basketball — proved to be key Wednesday for West Aurora in its 61-60 upset of top seed Oswego at the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional.
Three times Blackhawk seniors Spencer Thomas and Josh McAuley successfully executed it with the 6-foot-2 Thomas passing to the 6-7 McAuley as he spun to the basket after setting a screen. And three times, McAuley had a clear path and finished with a dunk.
The final one, with 21 seconds remaining, was the 17th lead change of the game and gave fourth-seeded West (23-6) its winning margin.
After it had worked twice in the third quarter, coach Gordie Kerkman went to the well once more, calling for the play again with 36.4 seconds remaining after Oswego took a 60-59 lead on a pair of Miles Simelton free throws at the 41.5 mark.
“(Kerkman) told us they were overplaying and were aggressive on defense and there would probably be no help,” McAuley said. “I just went to the basket and the middle was open. I was just glad I didn’t pick up my fifth foul and got to make a big shot at the end of the game.”
Oswego wasn’t done yet, however, as Simelton drove the ball to the basket only to have his shot swatted away by — who else? — McAuley. It was just the second of the game for the West center, who averages 3.6 blocks per game.
The Panthers got possession when the ball went out of bounds, though, and coach Kevin Schnable called time with 9.7 seconds remaining to set up for a final shot.
Sophomore Zach West (11 points), who hit two big treys earlier, passed up one and got the ball to Simelton again on the left wing. His three-pointer was short of the basket, but guard Jamaal Richardson came flying through the air, grabbed it and flipped it back to the basket but couldn’t connect.
“Rebound,” West guard Jontrel Walker said, explaining what was going through his mind on the final possession. “Because they got a lot of offensive rebounds tonight. Make sure we get a box out and make sure we get it down by our rim so there’s no other attempt.”
Jayquan Lee did just that, preserving the win.
Elliott McGaughy added 20 points for the Panthers, who lived and died by the trey on this night. McAuley played virtually a one-man zone, planted in the middle of the lane and had a big impact on the Oswego offense, especially in the first half.
Oswego (28-3) made seven field goals in the opening half and six were from beyond the arc as the Panthers went 1-for-9 on their two-pointers.
“I didn’t realize they were quite that good from beyond the three-point line,” said Kerkman, correctly adding, “I think they had more three-pointers than twos (10-9).”
Walker led the Blackhawks with 19 points, McAuley added 14 and Spencer Thomas had 10.
The biggest margin in the back-and-forth affair was a five-point lead — 8-3 and 17-12 — by West, which led 15-12, 26-22 and 46-42 after each of the first three quarters but never had control until the very end.