KeJuan Davis had already knocked down six shots from beyond the arc for East Aurora. So when he took an inbounds pass in overtime and rubbed off a screen, everyone in the gym knew a three-pointer would be launched.
But Davis could not connect this time, allowing visiting Waubonsie Valley (16-7 overall, 7-3 Upstate Eight Valley) to escape the upset with a hard-fought 52-50 victory.
On the final play, Davis leaned into his defender a bit, looking for a foul and three attempts at the line. But no call was made.
“We’re learning. We’ve been in a lot of close games, but unfortunately most have been losses,” said East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries. “In the long run, it will help us. I can’t fault the effort tonight.”
In the extra session, the Warriors took the lead as they had done during most of regulation. After working the ball for a good shot for over a minute, Jack Cordes found Chris Karkacis for an easy layup.
“They (the Tomcats) were in a triangle-and-two, so we just executed our offense and got those guys in the triangle to shift,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Chaz Taft.
Jay Dehaan followed with a pretty lefty layup before Davis hit his final trey to close the Waubonsie lead to 49-48. Warrior Matt Gialamas sandwiched three clutch free throws around a Delvion Pugh layup to set up two final attempts by Davis to tie or win the game. Both came up empty.
“Davis had it going tonight,” said Jeffries. “We went to him twice at the end, but he just wasn’t able to be the hero.”
The end of the fourth quarter was equally tense. With the score tied 45-45, the Warriors had the ball with a second left and tried a length-of-court pass that went out of bounds. With the ball brought back to the Tomcat basket, Davis got a good look at a three-pointer that rimmed out.
Dehaan led all scorers with 21 points, and he carried the Warriors in the first half by hitting five of eight shots and six of seven from the line for 17 points, more than half his team’s 30 points.
In the third quarter, point guard Nick Karkacis (13 points) got to the basket twice to help his team keep a narrow margin on East (4-17 overall, 1-9 conference). But every time the Warriors threatened to pull away, Davis made another long-range shot, sometimes from 25-28 feet.
Cordes only scored five points for Waubonsie Valley, but he still played a big role. His length stifled the inside game of Jonathan Villezcas, who had 22 points the night before against Bartlett. This time Villezcas managed only two points, forcing the Tomcats to go outside with Davis and Pugh (eight points on a pair of three-pointers).
“We did a great job down low on (Villezcas), but I’m not happy that Davis got 20. We knew he could shoot,” said Taft.