East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries missed his 200th career victory by a fraction of a second Saturday in Aurora.
Petey Davis dropped in a three from just over halfcourt, but the final buzzer sounded just before the release, and Urban Prep-West held on for the 59-57 victory.
Urban Prep’s pressure created six Tomcat turnovers in the first quarter, and the Lions converted layups each time to shoot to an early 21-12 advantage.
Jaquan Johnson, Jordan Huff, LaJuan Miller and Michael Baker were key in the Lions’ attack and accounted for all the baskets created by turnovers.
“We pressed to try to get them to rush up and get them out of their playing style,” said Miller, who led Urban Prep with 17 points.
East Aurora countered late in the first half as Adrian Smith drove for a dunk on an Urban Prep turnover. The Cats trailed 37-28 at the break.
But Smith had just begun his night’s work.
He put East on his back and scored 18 of the Tomcats’ 20 points in the third quarter. After a series of spectacular, athletic, and some awkward drives, Smith had the Tomcats’ last nine buckets (taking 11 shots) of the quarter to bring East to within 49-48.
“Coach told me to just finish a lot of shots. I get a lot of attempts, but in a lot of games I don’t finish them,” Smith said. “I tried to put the team on my back and finish shots.”
“He really stepped it up and played energized and inspired,” Jeffries added. “It’s too bad we couldn’t ride that energy to a win,”
But Smith (25 points) began the fourth by missing three charity tosses, and the momentum slipped away for East. John Ashford used his 6-6 frame to work low twice to keep the Lions in front.
Fred Reynolds finally tied the game at 55 on a putback with 3:06 remaining, but the Tomcats scored only once after that on a Jonathan Villezcas drive.
Urban Prep managed 4 of 8 free throws to hold on for the win.
“Smith has heart, and didn’t want to lose that game,” Johnson said. “I give him his kudos and would tell him ‘man, good job.’”
Urban Prep West is now 14-2 for the season and East Aurora moves to 4-13.