Wheaton Academy’s Gordon Behr began the fourth-quarter scoring Saturday night by sinking two free throws and finished it the same way.
In between there was a little too much drama for his liking, but it turned out well in the end.
Behr tallied eight of his 12 points in the final nine minutes as the visiting Warriors held off Aurora Christian 46-43 in Suburban Christian Blue action in Aurora.
“We didn’t play as well offensively as we would have liked but our defense toughened up in the fourth quarter,” Behr said. “We were able to get a few stops and win the game.”
Wheaton Academy (8-2, 4-0) appeared to have the rugged, slow-paced game in hand after the 6-8 Behr gave his team a 39-30 lead early in the final quarter.
But Aurora Christian (4-5, 1-2) made things interesting, holding the Warriors scoreless for the next 5:19 and cutting the deficit to 39-38 on a turnaround jumper by R.D. Lutze.
Behr, who pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and had three assists, responded with an inside bucket only to see the Eagles’ Johnathan Harrell pull the hosts within 41-40 on a putback with 1:35 remaining.
The Warriors got the lead back to 44-40 by sinking 3-of-4 free throws, but Lutze drained a three-pointer to make it 44-43 with :04 left.
Behr was then fouled and calmly made both foul shots with :02.7 to go.
“I wanted to take them,” Behr said. “I was pretty confident. I thought I’d make them.”
Aurora Christian had one chance to send the game into overtime, but Lutze’s open heave from 30 feet bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
That final miss epitomized the Eagles’ struggle to score against the Warriors, who surrendered only nine points in the second half. The loss was the fifth in six games for Aurora Christian. All five have been by seven points or less, with the last three coming by three points.
Points were easy to come by for Wheaton Academy in the early going. The Warriors raced out to a 19-7 lead behind the shooting of guard Josh Ruggles, who swished his first three three-point attempts and four of his first five.
But Ruggles, who finished with a game-high 13 points, did not score in the final 21 minutes and had only two attempts in that span.
“I think they really just extended their defense and we probably should have pushed it inside more,” Behr said. “We really just didn’t.
“It’s hard to win in this conference. They’re a good team and we got a good win, so we’ll take it.”
Lutze and Zach Singer scored 11 points to pace Aurora Christian, with Singer adding eight rebounds. Wes Wolfe added 10 points and Harrell had six points, seven boards and four assists for the Eagles.