No man is an island.
On a night that West Aurora career scoring leader Jontrell Walker would go 0-for-9 from the floor and be limited to just two third-quarter free throws, the Blackhawks needed someone else to step up.
Not a problem.
Juniors Roland Griffin and Tommy Koth combined for 30 points Friday at Wheaton North and the Blackhawks pulled away in the fourth quarter to claim a 50-38 decision and snap a two-game DuPage Valley Conference losing streak.
“We realized (Walker) was being face-guarded the whole game and we had to step it up,” said Koth, who had 14 points.
He also grabbed seven rebounds but took a pounding early, getting thrown to the floor twice while tied up with a larger opponent battling for loose balls.
“Yeah, I’ll be using a little ice when I get home,” Koth said.
The Blackhawks maintained a share of the league lead in the DVC at 10-2 and climbed to 19-5 overall. Wheaton North fell to 13-10 and 6-6.
West led 11-8 after one quarter and 21-17 at the half.
“We’ve been working hard on hustle all week because we’ve been coming out slow the last couple (league) games,” Koth said. “We knew we had to work hard.”
Wheaton North rallied to tie it at 26 on a putback by senior Andrew Slovinski with 2:53 remaining in the third. Slovinski finished with a team-high 13 points.
“Our goal was to get it to the last few minutes close with a chance to win,” Falcons coach Dave Brackmann said. “It got away from us a little earlier than we liked, though.
“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well, other than giving up a few easy ones at the end when we were gambling trying to get back into it. We just didn’t shoot very well, and that’s something you have to do against a good team.”
West closed the third with a 7-0 run, though, capped by Koth’s second three-pointer. Matt Dunn then fed Konner Jensen and Koth for back-to-back layups to open the fourth.
Griffin then closed it out with back-to-back treys and a highlight-reel dunk with 48.5 seconds left.
Fouled on the play, he made the free throw to cap a 16-point, nine-rebound night.
“It was good to see those guys step up, particularly Tommy,” West coach Gordie Kerkman said. “He hasn’t been quite as consistent as Roland. I thought Roland could’ve had more than 20, too. He missed some easy ones inside earlier.”