Improving Batavia continues surge by beating WW South

Batavia hit 9 3-pointers in Wednesday's home game against Wheaton Warrenville South.

Junior forward C.J. Valente was not a member of the 3-point club.

Nor did the 6-foot-5 Valente score in the first three quarters.

But Valente did come up big when it mattered - in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

Valente saved the day, deflecting a long pass headed toward a streaking Braylen Meredith with just under 10 seconds left. He swished a pair of free throws with 5.1 seconds to lift Batavia to a 49-43 upset over the Tigers in DuKane Conference play.

Valente scored 6 points - all free throws - to spark the Bulldogs to a comeback win.

"I saw the guys' eyes and I looked right at him and I just reached out for it," Valente said of his pivotal steal. "I saw (Braylen) and knew they were going to get it to their best player at the end of the ballgame. I saw the pass and took advantage. This win means a lot, taking down a really good team. We're playing a lot better recently in the second round of conference."

The Bulldogs (14-14, 6-6) evened up their records and the season series with the Tigers (22-5, 10-2) after dropping a 47-38 decision on Dec. 22.

The Bulldogs rode a collective effort to knock off the first-place Tigers. Five different players hit a 3-pointer, with sophomore Jax Abalos leading the charge with four 3-pointers for a team-high 12 points. Jacob Aseltine and Nate Nazos both buried two 3s and finished with 8 points. Aseltine gave the Bulldogs some cushion with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 43-39 with 1:26 left.

Abalos, a sweet-shooting left-hander with range, kept the Bulldogs in the game with his torrid shooting.

"We had to pull out some shots in the end," Batavia's Jack Ambrose said after contributing 7 points. "We started passing the ball faster in the second half, getting the ball to our shooters."

Nazos, a junior guard, kick-started the fiery perimeter show with a first-quarter trey, then sealed the win with 2 free throws with 4.4 left.

"We were looking for the next guy, and I was lucky my shots fell," Nate Nazos said. "We were waiting for these guys for over a month. It's a good win."

Batavia coach Jim Nazos said defense, solid shooting and teamwork led to the victory. The Bulldogs held the high-scoring Edwards, who fouled out late in the game, to 4 points in the final three quarters. Edwards paced the Tigers with 13 points, Colin Moore added 12 points and Luca Carbonaro had 9.

"It's a great win against a great team," Jim Nazos said. "There were a lot of things done well by our guys. Offensively, I thought we did a good job moving the ball until we found something. Braylen is a great player who can score in a lot of different ways. He got out of rhythm due to foul trouble. We've just kept working and this is a group that keeps working."

The Tigers couldn't build off a solid first quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to creep back into the game. The Bulldogs reeled off 7 straight points in the fourth quarter to take a 40-36 lead. Solid shooting, from distance and the free-throw line, helped the Bulldogs hold off the Tigers.

"They made some shots," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Healy. "We weren't very good in transition, let some opportunities get away."

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