ST. CHARLES – Boys basketball fans already knew Kendall Stephens and Dom Adduci could play – and they were both impressive in St. Charles East’s season-opening 76-46 victory over East Aurora on Monday.
But onlookers also learned the the Saints have some other players who can play the game, too.
Adduci led all scorers with 21 points and Stephens added 16 as East began the 54th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament on fire. Both players had 13 points by halftime as the Saints rolled to a 50-18 lead at the break.
“I thought the first half we were real sharp,” East coach Pat Woods said. “I thought we missed a couple easy ones early we should have made, so we’ve got some things we’ve got to work on, but definitely the first half was a good start.”
Nine different players scored for East in the opening half, which proved to be a bit of a coming out party for junior A.J. Washington. With East Aurora trailing just 8-7 midway through the opening quarter, the Saints went on a 15-0 run highlighted by a spectacular Washington dunk off an alley-oop from Adduci.
“Coach called it in the huddle and so me and A.J. just kind of looked at each other and I gave him a little pat,” Adduci said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to throw it, so get around the screen and get as high as you can.’ We play AAU together, so we definitely have a trust. So I knew he was going to put it down if I threw it anywhere near the rim.”
Washington scored on another lob pass, this time from Cole Gentry, to give East a 25-9 lead at the start of the second quarter.
Washington finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“It was fun to come out and show what I can do on the court,” Washington said. “It made my first varsity game so much more fun. I just wanted to give the crowd a preview of what they can see the rest of the season.”
The Tomcats played better in the second half, cutting the deficit to 21 early in the fourth quarter, but Gentry hit a couple of three-pointers on his way to 11 points to push the final margin back to 30.
“Coach really prepared us well the first couple weeks of practice,” Adduci said. “It took us a little while to jell as a team, but we have great team chemistry and I believe that our team can definitely click.”
The Saints used their superior size to dominate the boards, finishing with 44 rebounds to East Aurora’s 28.
“They came out played like they’ve been playing in this gym for awhile, didn’t they?” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “It was a combination of two things: One, we gave them too many open looks. … They shot the lights out, but at the same time, we need to play better defense.”
Jonathan Villezcas scored 17 points for the Tomcats. The 6-foot-5 junior played a strong second half.
Next up for the Saints is a date with 0-1 Schaumburg at 8 p.m. Wednesday as the tourney continues.