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Boys basketball: Bartlett too much for East Aurora

Bartlett's Lance Whitaker attempts buzzer-beating shot against host East Aurora. | Mike Mantucc~ For Sun-Times Media

Bartlett's Lance Whitaker attempts a buzzer-beating shot against host East Aurora. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 9, 2013 10:49PM

Bartlett used its patience and experience to put away East Aurora by a 68-36 tally for an Upstate Eight Valley Division road victory Saturday.

Even though the visiting Hawks — now 19-7 overall and 8-3 in league play — jumped out to a 7-0 start, East Aurora overcame its shooting struggles to get within five before Bartlett closed the second quarter with back-to-back threes for a 28-17 intermission advantage.

After trading baskets to start the third frame, the Hawks put together a 15-2 surge and never looked back. The Tomcats’ fell to 3-21 and 1-10 with their losing streak reaching 12.

“We got some good looks early but just didn’t score and then in the second half when we got down by double digits, we lost our focus,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “But give Bartlett and coach (Jim) Wolfsmith credit for having the kind of veteran ballclub that stayed patient and played with poise. They kept grinding away until they could get a spurt on us.”

Wolfsmith also pointed to his team’s intensity as a key.

“Earlier this year, we’d get an early lead and the pull the foot off the gas and then have to find a way to win. Tonight we wanted to make sure we continued to force the tempo and keep the pressure up,” Wolfsmith said. “In our conference every road win is hard and East is a young team, but they’re playing a lot better since Christmas, so we needed everyone to stay aggressive.”

As expected, Illinois-Chicago bound Lance Whitaker showed why he’s a 1,000-point career club member with a game-high 17 over three quarters of action. Bartlett got point production from 11 different players, but the surprise of the night was sophomore Ryan Dicanio’s offensive coming-out party.

Having joined the varsity for an MLK tourney, Dicanio still hadn’t scored for the Hawks until a second-quarter three-pointer that opened the floodgates to a trio of treys and 15 points.

“Once I got that first three off, I was feeling it and just kept shooting thanks to my teammates,” Dicanio said.

The Hawks, who had 10 triples, also had a trio of three-pointers as part of Jon Moss’ 11-point showing.

“(East) gave me some space and coach said if they sag off, take your shot,” Moss said.

“Both of those guys played well but I also like the efforts from (Billy) Kramer and (Tim) McKeague,” Wolfsmith said. “Kramer took a charge and hit a couple shots, he’s the grit guy every team needs. He and McKeague blocked out and battled.”

For East Aurora, senior Jonathan Villezcas paced the Tomcats with a team-best 12 points and seven rebounds while Tyree Willis finished with eight.

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