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Boys Basketball: Aurora Christian falls to Belvidere

Cory Windle (34) AurorChristian prepares pass while fast break surrounded by Belvidere defenders Darius Brown (42) Kane Steger Maurice Jacks(10).

Cory Windle (34) of Aurora Christian prepares to pass while on a fast break surrounded by Belvidere defenders Darius Brown (42), Kane Steger and Maurice Jackson (10). | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 28, 2012 11:19PM

Battle-tested defending Plano Christmas Classic champ and top seed Belvidere looked the part Friday in claiming a 68-53 decision over No. 13 Aurora Christian.

The Bucs started strong, forcing eight first-quarter turnovers by the Eagles. They built the lead to 11 late in the third quarter, withstood an Aurora Christian rally that cut the deficit to four (56-52) and then pulled away down the stretch.

“They’re a confident group,” Belvidere coach Aaron Pearson said of his 9-2 team. “Our five starters all average in double figures.”

One of only two Class 3A teams in the 4A-dominated NIC 10 Conference, Belvidere’s three-senior, two-junior lineup returned intact from last year’s Plano tourney champion and on this night the two juniors — 6-foot-3 forward Joe Byers and 5-8 point guard Maurice Jackson — led the way with 21 and 15 points, respectively.

“We wanted to get the tempo up from the outset,” said Pearson. “After that, (Aurora Christian) did a great job of going up against our pressure and got back into the game. I’m proud of the way the kids came back strong in the fourth quarter, though.”

Eagles’ forward Cory Windle drew his third foul with 5:22 left in the second quarter and sat the rest of the half. He returned in the third and scored on a baseline drive with 27 seconds left to cut the ACS deficit to 46-40.

Windle then capped a 7-3 run midway through the fourth with a driving layup on the break, cutting the lead to 56-52, but the Eagles were outscored 12-1 the rest of the way as the Bucs made eight of nine free throws down the stretch.

“We just didn’t play well,” said Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara. “Too many turnovers (18 for the game) and our work on the defensive boards wasn’t too strong, either. We’ve gotten better this tournament but we’ve got to execute better.”

Windle finished with 10 points, Ryan Suttle added 12 and Ryan McQuade led the Eagles with 17. McQuade also drew three charging fouls.

“We’ve got 30 drawn charges as a team and he’s got 27 of them,” said McNamara.

“They’re a pretty good defensive team and we gave them some unforced turnovers early. We were fortunate, we could have been down more at half and then we made the big run in the second half.”

Johnathan Harrell added nine points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds (5 offensive), but the Eagles (8-5) were still outrebounded 33-29.

Ottawa 60, Kaneland 50 — The Knights trailed by five points twice early in the fourth quarter but could get no closer in the semifinal of the 50th Annual Plano Christmas Classic.

The Pirates advance to meet defending champ Belvidere Saturday at 8:30 p.m. for the title. Kaneland and Aurora Christian will meet at 7 p.m. in the third-place game.

In the fourth quarter, Ottawa junior Cody Stokes had nine of his 15 points and senior J.D. Bryant had six of his game-high 16, including four free throws.

The Pirates had four players in double figures with John Carroll adding 14 and Nick Harsted 11.

The Knights had three players in double figures, led by John Pruett’s 14. Matt Limbrunner added 12 and Tyler Carlson had 10.

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