Jontrell Walker turned in a grand finale during Friday’s 73-59 Class 4A regional championship game win over Plainfield North, but there will be more to come from the West Aurora senior and his teammates.
“I was just really fired up, ready to play,” said Walker, the 6-1 senior who had 23 of his game-high 31 points in the first half as the Blackhawks (24-4) raced out to a 40-29 halftime lead.
“Regionals on our home floor. My last time playing here as a senior, not only me but our whole team this season. We came out ready to go and played a hard as we could.”
The regional title is the 23rd won by a Blackhawks team in this, the 38th year under veteran head coach Gordie Kerkman.
“That’s what I hoped to see. We beat a good basketball team. (Plainfield North) played a good game,” said Kerkman, whose team shot 56 percent (22-for-39) from the floor to 43 percent (21-for-49) for the Tigers.
Trevor Stumpe, a 6-5 junior guard who averages 24 points, had only two points in the first quarter with West’s 6-4 Roland Griffin defending him. The Blackhawk junior picked up his second charging foul just 33 seconds into the second quarter and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.
Stumpe proceeded to hit three straight three-pointers to keep his team within range. Another Stumpe three at the 4:05 mark of the third quarter pulled North (21-8) within 44-37, but West’s Tommy Koth answered with a three that sparked an 11-0 run that kept the Tigers at bay.
Griffin fed Matt Dunn for a 12-footer, Walker sank two free throws when North big man Cody Conway was whistled for a technical for throwing an elbow, Konner Jensen followed with two more free throws and Myles Wisley came up with a steal and breakaway layup.
“That was a six-point swing,” Plainfield North coach Bob Krahulik said, referring to the technical sequence. “We just couldn’t get it under 10 points.”
Wisley finished with 11 points, Griffin (six rebounds) added nine, and Koth and Jensen had six each with Carleton Williams and Matt Dunn five each. Williams and Koth had five rebounds each as West claimed a 29-18 edge on the boards.
Stumpe finished with 21 points and Jake Nowak added 11, but the Tigers’ big three of outside shooters that also includes Kevin Krieger went a combined 8-of-25 from beyond the arc.
“When you shoot over 25 threes in the game, you’re gonna live or die by them,” Krahulik said. “Last game (Wednesday’s nail-biter over Neuqua Valley) our defense kept us in it. But Walker got hot and we struggled defending him.
“They spread us out and Walker hit some tough shots, shots where we had a hand in his face or our help was OK but he made them.”
Next up for the Blackhawks is Plainfield East Regional winner Geneva in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. semifinal of the Class 4A East Aurora Sectional.