On the heels of Friday’s surprise loss to Naperville North, the margin of victory didn’t matter as much for West Aurora boys basketball coach Gordie Kerkman against West Chicago Saturday.
Kerkman was much more concerned with how the Blackhawks went about their business in advance of Wednesday’s regular-season finale against Glenbard East with a share of the DuPage Valley Conference championship on the line.
The No. 16 Blackhawks easily handled West Chicago, 80-35, and Kerkman was pleased with his team’s quick turnaround after Friday’s disappointment.
“The performance was more important than the score because there were certain areas we had to address,” Kerkman said. “I think we did for the most part. It was a little hard to tell because it was sort of a runaway.”
West Aurora (20-5, 11-2 DVC) wasted little time spoiling senior night at West Chicago (5-19, 0-13). After the Wildcats scored the first three points of the game, West Aurora went on a 14-0 run, highlighted by seven straight points from Spencer Thomas, to break out quickly.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. After West Chicago cut it to 21-10, the Blackhawks answered with a 13-0 run to stretch the lead to 34-10. They led 39-12 at the break, and John Konchar scored all but one of West Chicago’s points in the half. Konchar led the Wildcats with 14 points.
“We knew we were going to come out strong, we had to,” West Aurora senior Josh McAuley said. “We had to come out strong to get (a chance) at a tie of the DVC. We knew we had to put the past behind us and look forward.”
West Chicago got hot from three-point range in the third, hitting five treys, but it was too little, too late. The Blackhawks’ third string came on in the fourth and outscored the Wildcats 13-3 to seal the deal.
Jontrel Walker led all scorers with 20 points for West Aurora. McAuley added 16 points and nine rebounds, Spencer Thomas scored 11 points and Chandler Thomas scored 10.
“We passed the ball better today,” Kerkman said. “Last night, it seemed like we were looking for our shots instead of making the extra pass. Defensively, we were a little more consistent.”
West now prepares for Wednesday’s showdown with Glenbard East. West Aurora needs to win the game to win a share of the DVC title. If Glenbard East wins the game, the Rams win the title outright.
“We should be more than ready to play Wednesday,” McAuley said. “We know what we have to do, we just have to go out there and do it.”