Thursday marked the first game for East Aurora’s boys basketball team since the sudden passing of assistant coach Troy Smith, and the Tomcats had him on their minds.
In the opener of the East Aurora Holiday Tournament against Prosser, the Tomcats came out after a moment of silence for Smith to build a 15-point lead early in the second quarter and cruise to a 66-53 win.
“That’s one reason why we came out so strong,” East coach Wendell Jeffries said. “The kids dedicated the rest of the season to coach Smith. They were most definitely thinking about him before the game. They played hard for him.”
The Tomcats (2-8) dominated at the outset. A 15-2 run that featured 10 of Jonathan Villezcas’ game-high 26 points pushed the lead to 26-11 early in the second quarter and the Tomcats were able to keep Prosser at bay the rest of the night.
“He’s a good coach and we miss him,” Villezcas said. “He’s still with us. We played hard for him.”
Villezcas had one of his finest games at a Tomcat, finishing with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field to go with eight rebounds.
“I thought Jonathan played big for us tonight,” Jeffries said. “He controlled the glass. He was a force inside.”
While the Tomcats were happy with the win in the midst of a tough season, there were still some things that Jeffries was not pleased with after the game. East shot only 17-of-27 from the free-throw line as a team and committed 27 turnovers.
“I’ve been saying that we need to learn how to win,” Jeffries said. “Today, we were still learning, but it’s nice to be learning how to win when you get a win.”
Tobias McGhee paced Prosser with 19 points. Adrian Smith tallied 16 points and nine rebounds for the Tomcats.
East Aurora gets Milwaukee North Friday at 7:15 p.m. The Blue Devils are led by explosive junior guard David Hamilton, who lit up Aurora Central Catholic for 47 points in a losing effort Thursday.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” Jeffries said. “But at the same time, it will take a whole team to beat us.”
Aurora Central Catholic 71, Milwaukee North 66: The Chargers withstood a 47-point barrage from Milwaukee Hamilton to post a win in their tournament opener.
Hamilton shot 16-of-37 from the field, including 10-of-23 from three-point range, to reach his 47 points. Hamilton’s floater in the lane with 3:45 left tied the game at 72-72, but back-to-back lay-ups from ACC’s Sean Harreld and Evan Schuetz gave the Chargers back the lead for good.
Schuetz was one of five Chargers in double figures, leading the team with 18 points. Brandon Babler added 15, Harreld scored 14 and Andy Czerak and Matt Schaefer each scored 11.