Aurora Christian was moving the basketball, and the Eagles are moving on in the playoffs.
Johnathan Harrell canned six 3-point baskets and scored 20 points, Ryan McQuade netted three more 3s as No. 3 seed Aurora Christian handily dispatched No. 6 Somonauk 80-44 in the first round of the Class 2A Westmont regional on Monday.
On Wednesday in the regional semifinals No. 2 St. Edward will face an Aurora Christian squad that has scored 80 or more points in three of its last four games — including the one that began the streak Feb. 9 against St. Edward.
“I like the teamwork, we’re just all working together and we’re finally clicking at the right time and peaking at the right moment, which is regionals and moving on to sectionals, hopefully. Yeah, I feel like just chemistry-wise we’re doing really good,” Harrell said.
Throw in another 3-pointer by Steve Buhrt at the start of the all-sub fourth quarter and Aurora Christian (17-11) made 10 for the game. The Eagles, in their fifth straight win, were bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than Somonauk (12-16).
“They’re just big bodies and strong kids, and (it) freed them up. They knocked down a lot of shots,” said Bobcats coach Ron Hunt. “When you’re shooting the ball well it makes the rest of the game a little bit easier. We couldn’t get it going offensively and that’s partly because their defense is very aggressive and physical.”
After a first quarter in which seven Aurora Christian players scored and Cory Windle grabbed 6 rebounds to help post a 23-12 lead, the Eagles forced 8 Somonauk turnovers in the second quarter, getting steals by Grant Schweisthal, Haydn McNelis and Ryan McQuade.
Harrell canned three 3s in the quarter to go up 45-17 at halftime.
“Recently coach (Pat McNamara) has been like, ‘If we don’t play as a team we’re not going far.’ So we came together as a team and we’re working hard, we’re working hard on defense, on offense. Getting our teammates shots, good shots, and just working a lot better as a team,” said McQuade, who scored 14 points to join Harrell and Paxton Singer, with 10 points, in double figures.
Somonauk came out of halftime with renewed vigor behind Marcus Alstadt, 230-pound junior Reece Bode — who scored 12 points with 13 rebounds — and senior guard John Wathen, who scored a team-high 13 points.
And still Aurora Christian mustered its highest-scoring quarter of the game to go into the fourth quarter leading 68-29.
“We got wide-open shots,” McNamara said. “That’s what I like to see. A lot of assists, a lot of guys moving the ball real well and try to get it inside. That’s what we’ve got to do — we’ve got to get people in foul trouble and make that extra pass, and offensively that was the difference.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.