Aurora Christian has no answer for Timothy Christian big man Connor VanderBurg

SHARE Aurora Christian has no answer for Timothy Christian big man Connor VanderBurg
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Beware the big man.

That was the prophetic message Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara delivered to his team before Wednesday night’s non-conference matchup with Timothy Christian.

The Trojans’ 6-foot-6 Connor VanderBrug dropped 29 points on the Eagles to match a career high and lead his team to a 72-67 victory after nearly blowing a 15-point third-quarter lead.

The result leaves both teams 3-2.

“Tonight was more due to team passing. We connected well. A lot of guys were feeding me the ball,” said VanderBrug, who capitalized on his good footwork to execute the pick-and-roll with guards Kahli Valrie and Ben Lodewyk and forward Robert McGivney to torch ACS.

Timothy Christian took advantage of the hosts’ cool shooting from long distance early in the game to take leads of 16-12, 33-22 and 50-41.

The Eagles made just 4 of 20 shots (20 percent) from beyond the arc through three quarters while the visitors were connecting on 42 percent (6 of 14) from long range.

In the same span, ACS hit just 38 percent (16-42) overall while the Trojans dropped in 53 percent (21-40), thanks to VanderBrug’s work inside. His 12 third-quarter points helped Timothy lead by as many as 15 twice in the period, early (37-22 with 6:45 remaining) and late (50-35 with 1:34 left).

“The big guy really hurt us,” said McNamara. “He did a great job. We concentrated on denying him the ball, tried doubling down, but he really hurt us. I told the guys a couple days before he was probably the best big guy we’d see to this point in the season and he was.”

The Eagles forced 11 second-half turnovers to get back into it behind the hot hands of senior Johnathan Harrell and sophomoe R.D. Lutz. Harrell scored 15 of his team-high 21 points after the break and Lutz hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quartere when the Eagles were 4-of-9 from distance.

A Lutz trey with 34 seconds remaining cut the deficit to 67-64, but VanderBrug answered with a pair of free throws and so did Valrie, who finished with 22 points to keep ACS at bay.

Trojans’ coach Jack LeGrand called VanderBrug “one of the hidden gems” in the area.

“We pulled him up to the sophomore team as a freshman but he broke his arm and missed the season,” the coach said. “He’s been on varsity the past three years and averaged 17-18 points and eight rebounds last year.

“He has to do a lot for us, even handle the ball at time, because we don’t have a lot of varsity experience other than him.”

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