Admittedly, I haven't had a chance to get out and watch as much local high school basketball as I would like this season. Due to the ridiculous staff shortages here in the sports department at Sun-Times Media West, I've been stuck in this hole basically every Friday and Saturday night all winter. Thus, I haven't been able to see teams in person like I have in the past.
However, I was off last evening and I made it out to Waubonsie Valley High School to watch the Class 4A regional opener between my alma mater, West Aurora, and the host Warriors.
What I saw last night confirmed what I've figured to be true all season long -- boys high school basketball in the city of Aurora is down, down, down for the second straight year. West High beat Waubonsie Valley 50-38, but neither school is fielding a team that is as strong as the teams that have been fielded in years past.
I thought West played OK last night. Senior Tyrone Carey (pictured) actually had an impressive outing. He knocked down some perimeter shots and also had some good takes to the basket. He finished with a game-high 17 points.
Nevertheless, I can see why West is only 12-15 this season. They are limited offensively, both in terms of ballhandlers and shooters. The Blackhawks will be underdogs in tonight's regional semifinal against Naperville North.
Naperville schools favored to do better in the basketball postseason than Aurora schools? Seriously? As an Auroran, that wounds my pride a little bit.
As for Waubonsie Valley, man, where to start? That was the worst performance I've seen from a Warriors team in many years. They were outscored 20-8 in the second quarter to fall behind 30-18 at half. After West scored the first six points of the third quarter, Waubonsie coach Steve Weemer had seen enough. He pulled his starters off the court, played his bench guys and saw the deficit swell to 43-23 late in the third quarter.
Three of the guys Weemer pulled off the court never got back on the floor. Time after time in that second half, I saw Weemer walk down to the end of his bench and summon little-used reserves, while those starters sat and watched.
That's quite a powerful statement from a coach. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it before. Weemer essentially sent the message that he'd rather lose a regional game with reserves playing hard than allow his starters who weren't playing well to get back on the court. Very interesting, and it's no wonder Waubonsie finished up 9-18 this year based on what I saw last night.
Last year, no team from an Aurora high school won a regional. This year, Waubonsie, Aurora Christian and IMSA are already gone. Frankly, I don't see a regional title in the offing this week for West Aurora, East Aurora, Aurora Central Catholic or Marmion Academy either. It's looking like A-Town will get shut out again this year.
Prove me wrong, guys. I'd like to see some team from Aurora step up and win. These last couple years have been bleak for a city with a proud tradition of high school basketball.
UPDATE: West Aurora upsets Naperville North 46-40 Tuesday night. My civic pride feels a little better now. Can the Blackhawks (13-15) be a surprise regional champ? They'll play either Oswego East or Batavia on Friday night.