East Aurora, West Aurora set to renew rivalry
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2013 5:22PM
West Aurora’s Jayquan Lee goes to the basket during a Jan. 11 game against West Chicago. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
The last five
2011-12: West 73, East 42 at NIU
2010-11: East 74, West 66 at East
2009-10: West 72, East 66 at NIU
2008-09: West 66, East 64 2 OT at East
2007-08: West 60, East 50 at West
Overall series: West 128, East 87
Updated: March 19, 2013 3:01AM
Aurora’s East-West basketball rivalry moves into its second century Saturday when the underdog Tomcats play host to the Blackhawks in the 216th meeting of the series.
West coach Gordie Kerkman will take his team across the Fox River for the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start after taking their 13-2 record to Lombard Friday for an important DuPage Valley Conference game with Glenbard East — both teams are 6-0 in the league.
Meanwhile, Wendell Jeffries and his 3-14 Tomcats prep for the crosstown rivalry game by hosting Metea Valley in an Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division clash Friday.
“I just like the fact we’ll be back in a high school gym. Just by being in a high school gym makes it a hot ticket,” Jeffries said. “I know we’re not playing very well, but there’s no urgency to get a ticket when you won’t sell out. I think it will be a typical East-West crowd (Saturday).”
His team was missing its two top scorers from among four players who were out due to injury or academic ineligibility when it dropped a 73-42 decision to West in last year’s meeting held at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center for the second time in three years.
“And Gordie took it easy on us,” Jeffries said.
It was the third largest margin of victory in the series, which West leads 128-87.
In a 1948-49 matchup, West claimed a 33-point victory (68-35) and in a 1995-96 contest, the Blackhawks won by 32 (53-21).
Former West athletic director Andy Lutzenkirchen in 2010 engineered the move to NIU so he wouldn’t have to turn fans away from the Blackhawks’ smaller gym, whose capacity is under 3,000.
Jeffries and East keep it in their gym, which holds nearly 4,000, when it’s their turn to host.
This is the 15th season since West moved from the Upstate Eight to the DVC, but the Blackhawks are on the verge of moving back to the UEC. The teams might resume meeting at least twice a season if they’re placed in the same division, which would seem likely.
In the past 14 years, they’ve met just once a year eight times. In six seasons they did play twice, thanks to postseason matchups.
“I know East has struggled, but you can never take a team for granted when it’s East-West, no matter what kind of season either one is having,” said Kerkman.
“Just looking at their scores, East has been in a lot of their games. I’ve only seen them on DVD. Knowing Wendell, though, I’m sure he’ll throw the kitchen sink at us. You’ve got to expect a lot.”
Junior guard Jontrel Walker (19.3 ppg) leads the Blackhawks but he gets plenty of help. Senior 6-7 post player Josh McAuley is having a breakout season, averaging 11.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocked shots. Senior guard Jayquan Lee (8.2 ppg) and 6-2 twins Spencer Thomas (7.9 ppg) and Chandler Thomas (5.7) have also been productive.
“McAuley has been really concentrating on the defensive end, rotating well,” said Jeffries, “but for a big man, he’s also got a great shooting touch.
“And Jontrel (Walker) has really developed into a great player. When he started as a freshman he was really shaky and had a lot of turnovers, but he’s matured and improved not only handling the ball but shooting as well.”
Senior guard DeJon Talbert (14.1 ppg) leads East, but 6-5 Jonathan Villezcas (11.9 points, 7. 9 rebounds) has made great strides as has 6-2 Tyree Willis (9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds), who shoots well from beyond the arc.
“I watched them play Lake Park. They played hard and they do get after you,” said West assistant coach Paul Kieffer. “And these kids know each other. They’ve grown up playing each other, whether it’s on the playground or in pickup games at the Vaughan Center.”