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Points-happy Aurora in high gear with Tyler Hall, Scott Laskowski

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Updated: January 27, 2014 12:44PM

With a change in format in the Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference, Aurora basketball coach James Lancaster anticipated a challenge.

“We were a little concerned,” he said. “This was the first year they went to a double round robin, and it used to be divisions. That’s 20 games, and it’s quite a grind. We’re through seven games and now we have a break, so now we’re looking at it as a 13-game grind.”

The Spartans (9-3, 6-1) finished off the opening segment of that grind in style last Friday, running to a 106-101 victory over conference co-leader Marian (7-4, 6-1) of Fond du Lac, Wis. Aurora doesn’t play again until Jan. 4 at Lakeland in Sheboygan, Wis.

It’s a welcome break for the energetic Spartans, who are averaging 83.8 points per game. Four players are averaging in double figures, with sophomore transfer Tyler Hall leading the way at 15.5, followed by senior Scott Laskowski (15.1), sophomore Kalmon Stokes (13.5) and junior Brandon Smith (11.3).

The 6-3 Hall is a do-it-all guard who transferred from Goshen (Ind.) College. He leads the Spartans with 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals and is fourth with 3.8 rebounds.

“We started him at the point guard, and it’s a tricky combination when your point guard scores that much for you,” Lancaster said. “We ended up moving him off the ball and he also backs up the point, so he’s really playing the combo for us.”

Laskowski, a 6-6 forward, comes off the bench but is fourth on the team in minutes at 24.1. In addition to being second in scoring, he leads the Spartans with 7.6 rebounds and has a .618 shooting percentage.

“The best thing is his attitude,” Lancaster said. “Last year he was one of our top players from a scoring and a rebounding standpoint, but we were a better ballclub having him coming off the bench. This year I told him, ‘We will not bring you off the bench. You made the sacrifice for the team last year. It’s your senior year. I’m going to start you no matter what.’

“It just became apparent with our rotation that we would be better with him off the bench again. He came to me and said, ‘Coach, I knew you wouldn’t bring me off the bench, but if that’s what makes us stronger, bring me off the bench.’ He’s more interested in who’s finishing the game. His dad [former Indiana and Bulls guard John Laskowski] was sixth man of the year at one point, so I think Scott’s kind of taken to that role as well.”

During the break between games, Lancaster asked his guys only to stay in shape and enjoy time with their families, before getting back together on Dec. 30.

“We’ve been going hard since Oct. 15, and a rest will do everyone some good,” he said. “Get away from the game a little while and come back ready to roll.”

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