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Girls basketball: Tyshee Towner beats buzzer for East Aurora

East Aurora's Desiree Rhodes West Aurora's Elizabeth Skaggs battle for rebound Tuesday Aurora. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

East Aurora's Desiree Rhodes and West Aurora's Elizabeth Skaggs battle for a rebound Tuesday in Aurora. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:15AM



The game dubbed “The Revival of the Rivalry” lived up to its billing.

East Aurora and West Aurora met on the basketball court for the first time in years Tuesday night and the fans were treated to an ending worthy of the crosstown rivalry.

West Aurora led nearly the entire game, but Tyshee Towner sank a 10-foot fallaway in the lane at the buzzer to give host East Aurora a thrilling 42-41 victory.

With her team trailing by one and six seconds left, Towner raced up the left side of the court and launched an off-balance three-pointer that caromed hard off the backboard.

The Tomcats’ Jubilee Fleming was able to tip the ball back toward Towner, who was left open as she rushed over to the foul line. The 5-8 senior guard caught it and shot in one motion and when the shot tickled the twine the East fans stormed the floor.

“Everybody was jumping for it and Jubilee tipped it, and I had to use the athleticism that I had to get the ball and toss it up there,” said Towner, who injured her knee after being trampled by the fans. “I put it up there just on luck — it was a 50-50 chance.”

The odds would have been much longer than that had the Blackhawks not all gone for the ball, leaving the speedy Towner to sneak into position.

“Nobody boxed her out, it was as simple as that,” West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl said. “That was the whole game: nobody boxed out anybody the whole game and you can’t win games with turnovers and nobody boxing anybody out.”

East Aurora coach Bill Anderson, whose team trailed for all but 20 seconds, agreed.

“They didn’t block out and we’ve been teaching our kids to follow their shot, so she was attacking the basket,” Anderson said of Towner, who tallied a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds. “It was basically a mental breakdown on their part.”

East was the team breaking down in the early going as the Blackhawks (5-6) jumped out to a 13-1 lead. But the Tomcats (5-7) slowly crept back into it and never lost faith during a turnover-plagued game in which neither offense could get much going.

“We’ve been in that situation plenty of times and we just have to fight through it as a team,” East center Desiree Rhodes said. “Someone told me now’s not the time to give up, to just go for it.”

Rhodes hadn’t been able to buy a basket for much of the contest and missed a wide-open layup with 22 seconds left, but rebounded her own miss and converted a three-point play to give the Tomcats their first lead, 40-39, with 19.7 to go.

Rhodes (seven points, six rebounds, five steals), then fouled out trying to block a shot by West’s Taylor Jacobsen, who swished both free throws to put the visitors up 41-40 with 6.2 remaining.

Jacobsen led West with 11 points, while Abriya Zeitz added nine points and Molly Jordan had seven. Brandi McAlister had eight points for the Tomcats, who feel they will earn some respect with the victory.

“I think it helps the women’s program,” Towner said. “It helps people recognize that we’re more than females trying to play basketball. We might not be able to dunk, but we are a team and we need a crowd to support us.”



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