Pickett, Rogers carry West Aurora at Pontiac
The third consecutive 3-point jumper Josh Pickett drained to start the fourth quarter was truly a gift from the basketball gods.
But the West Aurora emerging sophomore star was not about to relinquish its significance as the Blackhawks earned a sixth straight victory to open the Pontiac Holiday Tournament Tuesday morning.
The nine straight team points Pickett scored as a result of his three consecutive conversions enabled West Aurora to break free from a fourth-quarter-beginning deadlock with Lockport.
The Porters never came any closer as West Aurora advanced to the quarterfinals with a 46-37 victory.
"They were on a run, and I was like, 'We've got to get something going,'" said Pickett, who along with senior breakout 6-foot-7 forward Ty Rodgers combined for perfect shooting from 3-point range on their 8 attempts. "I saw the moments and took the shots."
"We were late on our rotations, and (Pickett) made us pay," said Lockport senior floor leader Julius Smith, who spearheaded a furious Lockport renaissance after the Blackhawks scored the first 15 points of the contest.
Smith had 9 points to pace the Porters, who dropped their fourth straight game after beginning the season with seven consecutive wins; the Lockport guard was the lone player to interrupt the Pickett personal run.
Rogers, meanwhile, ably complemented the 14-point Pickett performance with 17 points of his own.
Rogers' fourth 3-pointer of the game restored the Blackhawks' double-digit lead that had been commonplace earlier in the contest late in the fourth quarter.
The Blackhawks (8-3) will face New Trier in the second quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon after Pickett supplied the symbolic dagger to the Porters on the fourth make without a miss from distance in the fourth quarter.
Pickett improbably banked home his third straight fourth-quarter 3-pointer from wide left of the top of the key.
"The bank killed our confidence," Smith said of the Porters' only lead of the game, 32-30 late in the third quarter, turning into a 41-34 deficit.
Rogers was the central difference-maker in the Blackhawks erupting for the first 15 points in the opening quarter.
Rogers began the game with an inside deuce and added back-to-back 3-pointers later in the quarter as Lockport began the game by misfiring on 17 of its first 20 shots.
"I think it was just confidence," Rogers said of the Blackhawks' first quarter, which ended with the team leading 15-2 en route to scoring 22 of the first 28 points.
"We are (a No.) 11 seed, and we feel we're much better than that. We thought it was kind of disrespectful."
West Aurora finished 9-for-11 on its 3-point attempts; the Porters, conversely, misfired on 16 of their 18 shots from beyond the arc.