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Thomas, Wauconda shoot down Richmond
By Joe Aguilar | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/24/2012 12:16 AM

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Kodey Thomas can thank his father, Vann, for his cool first name.

“My dad saved me,” Wauconda’s 6-foot-3 senior forward said. “My mom (Laura) wanted to name me Edgar. ... I’m not a big fan (of the name Edgar).”

On Friday night at Richmond-Burton, Wauconda could thank Kodey Thomas for his fourth-quarter cool.

His 3-point play with 2:36 left was critical for the Bulldogs, who were in jeopardy of suffering a third straight tough loss.

But when Richmond-Burton’s Brian Wells couldn’t get a tough 3-pointer from the right corner to go down, while he was being double-teamed, Wauconda had escaped with a 53-50 win in third-round action of the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton tournament.

Wauconda had lost its season opener to Grayslake North by 5 points, before dropping an overtime decision to Rockford Jefferson.

“I’m really glad our team played good ‘D’ and pulled through,” Thomas said. “We have a good defense where we just get our hands on everything. We like to run in transition. We’re a run-and-gun team, and it’s easy to go and get layups. It worked today.”

Thomas led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, including 14 in the opening quarter, and also had 6 steals and a blocked shot.

Wauconda (1-2), which will play Freeport at 4:30 p.m. today at Johnsburg, took the lead for good with 43 seconds left in the fourth, when Austin Swenson fed 6-6 sophomore Ricky Sidlowski for a layup. Keith Blomberg split a pair of free throws for the game’s final point.

Thomas’ monster first quarter included three 3-pointers. He would have had 16 points in the quarter, but his fastbreak layup came a half-second after the buzzer sounded.

“I was feeling it,” Thomas said. “The ball didn’t come to me after that. ... They played good defense on us, and they stopped me from getting the ball in the corner, where I was hitting in the first half.”

“He’s got a shot,” Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said of Thomas, who played regular minutes on varsity last season. “He’s quick on defense. We told him, ‘If you play defense, you’re going to get layups.’ He took that to heart this summer, built on it and is still working on it now that the season has started.”

Paced by Thomas, Wauconda bolted to leads of 9-0 and 14-2 and held a 21-7 advantage after one quarter. But Richmond-Burton slowed down Thomas and the Bulldogs offense, got within 28-19 by halftime and were within 41-40 after three.

“At one point I think we had 8 possessions and 7 turnovers,” Luetschwager said. “We just made bad passes, soft passes. Richmond-Burton moved well, and their pressure got to us for a little bit. Give them credit. They moved their feet, got some steals off that, passed it off, and they hit some 3s.”

Richmond-Burton (0-3) hit nine 3-pointers, in total, with junior guard Mike Kaska and senior guard Chris Vlasak (team-high 13 points) sinking 3 apiece. Sophomore Sam Kaufman’s left-wing 3 put the Rockets up 49-47 with two minutes left, before Swenson (10 points) answered with a three-point play with 1:48 to go.

Sidlowski finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds, after scoring 19 points against Rockford Jefferson on Wednesday. The varsity rookie also had a steal in the final seconds.

“As a freshman, he was dropping 20 points a game,” Luetschwager said. “Soft passes, soft hands. Everything he touches goes in, almost.”