ST CHARLES – Not even five minutes after beating East Aurora, 79-64, to open up the 55th Annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament, the St Charles East boys basketball team was hard at work in the weight room.
After knocking down eight 3-pointers and leading by as many as 23 points, the Saints did much of their heavy lifting on the court, earning a win in the season opener for both teams.
Returning three-year starter Dom Adduci led all scorers with 25 points – 18 of which came in the first half – as East had four players in double figures.
“Before the game I felt a little jittery – I didn’t really know what to expect,” Adduci said. “I came out strong and felt 100 percent. We wanted to come out and set the tone in the first half. I got some drives in the lane that really opened it up for everyone else.”
Up 14-8 after the first quarter, East (1-0) held the Tomcats to only nine second-quarter points, racing out to a 42-21 halftime lead. Adduci’s quick drives opened up the floor for the Saints, with Jake Asquini and Jake Clodi each knocking down 3-pointers in the first half.
East’s perimeter depth will be a major factor in the Saints’ success this season. East can count on five players who can all shoot 3-pointers consistently, helping offset the loss of Kendall Stephens, who is now at Purdue.
“We have a lot of versatility. We had guys who came off the bench and shot the ball pretty well tonight,” East coach Pat Woods said. “With Cole [Gentry] coming back, it will be difficult for teams to focus on Dom. I thought he played solid in the first half – he’s so fast with the ball.”
Despite playing without starters Gentry (lower back) and David Mason (broken foot), East was able to hold strong in the second half as the Tomcats (0-1) tried to climb back into the game.
Each time East Aurora made a run, the Saints had an answer. The Tomcats cut the East lead to 47-34 midway through the third quarter but an Asquini 3 and a Mick Vyzral lay-in pushed the lead back to 52-34.
With Mason out, A.J. Washington shouldered the load in the paint with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. The 6-foot-5 senior also had a pair of monster dunks, including a one-handed jam where Washington took off from nearly the free-throw line.
“I got us going early with the dunk – I mean I felt like M.J. on that one,” Washington said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it. It got the crowd fired up and we started making some shots and playing defense.”
East’s lineup could be scary for opposing defenses, with the potential for four and even five three-point shooters on the floor at the same time. Even in the easy win, East shot only 8 for 23 from 3-point range, something Woods says the Saints have to improve upon.
“I’m actually not all that happy with the way we played; I thought we came out sloppy,” Woods said. “I thought in the second half we didn’t play very well, I thought we were real sloppy with the ball. We gave up way too many points in the second half. I’m happy we got the win of course, but we’re looking to continue to get better.”
Asquini knocked down three treys as part of his 11 points while Vyzral also had 11 off the bench.
Fred Reynolds led East Aurora with 18 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
St. Charles North vs. Plainfield East, 5 p.m.
St. Joseph vs. East Aurora, 6:30 p.m.
Downers Grove South vs. North Lawndale, 8 p.m.
Downers Grove South vs. Plainfield East, 5 p.m.
St. Charles North vs. North Lawndale, 6:30 p.m.
St. Charles East vs. Schaumburg, 8 p.m.
East Aurora vs. Schaumburg, 2:30 p.m.
North Lawndale vs. Plainfield East, 4 p.m.
St. Charles North vs. Downers Grove South, 6 p.m.
St. Charles East vs. St. Joseph, 7:45 p.m.
Seventh-place game, 2:30 p.m.
Fifth-place game, 4 p.m.
Third-place game, 6 p.m.
Championship game, 7:45 p.m.