Hot shooting sends St. Charles East past East Aurora
Pat Woods expects 3-point shooting to be a strength for his team this season.
It would be fair to say even Woods wasn't expecting the way his St. Charles East boys basketball team started its season Monday night.
The Saints made eight 3-pointers in the first quarter and held off a feisty East Aurora team 80-70 as part of the 63rd Annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament.
Overall for the night, St. Charles East (1-0) made 14-of-32 3-point attempts, including six 3s from senior guard Jake Borri.
"I loved our energy and pace tonight," Woods said. "I think the 3-pointer is a great neutralizer against athletic ability. We shot 43% from 3 tonight, and I'll take that any day of the week. Honestly, I know we can shoot even better than that, which I know sounds crazy with the way we started tonight."
The Saints made 8-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc, including three in the final minute of the first frame to finish the quarter on a 12-3 run.
St. Charles East led 31-12 after the first eight minutes.
"It's a lot of fun to play like that," said Borri, who finished with a game-high 20 points. "Everyone kind of came out and was shooting unconscious. I think everyone on this team is extremely unselfish. Everyone is willing to make the next pass and everyone knows where our good shooters are going to be at on the court."
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that East Aurora (0-1) got within single digits - at 74-67 with 2:30 left - after the Saints' fast start. Ralph Clarke finished with a team-high 17 points for the Tomcats, but it was too little too late as they couldn't quite recover from the slow first quarter.
East Aurora coach Rick Robinson knew if his team gave the Saints good looks on its home court, it likely wouldn't like the outcome.
"They are tough to guard," Robinson said of the Saints. "It's one thing to be shooting a lot of [3-pointers], but it's another thing to be making them. I commend them. You can tell they put a lot of time and got a lot of shots up in their home gym, so you expect them to shoot like that. I thought we did a good job at contesting and rotating over to them, but at the end of the day, they were making them."
Steven Call scored 14 of his 16 points for St. Charles East in the first half, citing his team's unselfish play as the biggest reason to the fast start.
Six different Saints knocked down a 3-pointer in the win.
"I think we just wanted to keeping moving the ball, playing fast and finding the open man," Call said. "If someone was hot, we just kept feeding them… I think we know we have several guys that make 3s and that that's going to be one of our strengths this year. I think we were all feeling really good about our shot, so if we got a look, we were letting it fly."
Jacob Vrankovich (13 points) and Drew Clarke (12 points, two 3-pointers) also reached double figures for St. Charles East.
East Aurora had four others join Clark in double figures, including Kenneth Cooley, who finished the night with a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds).