AURORA – Yorkville was without two of its top three offensive threats and another played limited minutes during Tuesday’s Southwest Prairie Conference opener at West Aurora.
The Blackhawks were playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season and looking to forget about Friday’s excruciating last-second loss to Fenwick in the championship game of the annual Hoops 4 Healing tournament.
The setting wasn’t a good one for the Foxes who fought hard but ultimately were overwhelmed by the Blackhawks, 55-33.
“Our three top offensive options weren’t available tonight,” Yorkville coach John Holakovsky said. “I thought we competed our butt off on the defensive end in the first half. We run all of our offense through those three so we’re just undermanned right now.”
Yorkville (1-2, 0-1) appeared destined for a 14-11 lead after the opening quarter, but West Aurora senior C.J. Savage (19 points) buzzer beater answered Yorkville senior Dayvion Johnson’s three-pointer just seconds earlier.
It was just that kind of night for the Foxes who played without ill/injured seniors Jory Boley and Bryce Salek.
“We’re going to have to have some guys step up in different roles and try to find someone to get some baskets,” Holakovsky said. “Hopefully this makes us better later on in the season when we get everyone back. We’re playing some juniors who are playing more than they normally would right now so hopefully that’s good for us later on.”
West Aurora (3-2, 1-0) began to pull away in the second quarter, holding the Foxes to just a basket from Kaevion Johnson midway through the quarter. The Blackhawks led 26-16 at halftime.
“I’m just proud of them tonight with their defensive effort, especial in the second quarter,” West Aurora coach Mike Fowler said. “It’s a big bounce back coming off our last one losing by a last second three-pointer to Fenwick.”
After making a free throw with 6:49 left in the third quarter, Savage missed his ensuing try but salvaged the rebound. He’d knock down a three-pointer several seconds later to make it 45-27.
In the first half, Jordan Brooks (13 points) pulled off a similar feat. First he delivered a nice pass to junior Gabriel Gonzales for an easy basket and a foul. Gonzales missed his opportunity for the three-point play, but the Blackhawks snagged another rebound. Brooks then proceeded to knock down the more common three-pointer from beyond the arc for a five-point run in a matter seconds.
“On those plays coach tells us to never give up,” Brooks said. “I saw an offensive rebound and then I had an open shot so I had to knock it down.”
Trailing 41-26 after three quarters, the Foxes played it safe and had Jakstys (10 points) call it a night. Kaevion Johnson (8 points) joined him after fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
“We had a couple baskets early in the third quarter but didn’t get stops and didn’t keep it going,” Holakovsky said. “And then Jason’s back isn’t good right now. He’s not moving well at all. He’s holding his back every possession, and at some point in the third quarter is 50% of him really worth it right now at the beginning of the season?”
Holakovsky even had a couple of players from the sophomore team suit up.
“If Jason didn’t go we would’ve only had nine guys dressed,” he said. “So we had two sophomores dress and then we put them in at the end. We’re just down guys right now. It’s kind of tough right now for us.”
Dayvion Johnson added 9 points for the Foxes who will host Minooka on Friday.
West Aurora will also be in action on Friday as the Blackhawks travel to Oswego.
“We lost to Yorkville twice last year so we were looking to get our get-back on them and win our home opener,” Brooks said. “The energy in the gym was out of this world here. It’s hard to explain, but everybody was so loud and into the game. It’s really like having another player on the court with us.”