JOLIET – Friday featured several fine performances for local teams seeking trips to title games at the WJOL and Joliet West Thanksgiving tournaments.
In its own tournament, Joliet West capped pool play with a 73-53 victory over Brother Rice to finish with wins by 25-point average margins in three victories. The Tigers (3-0) claimed a 13-10 lead and scored 11 in a row in the second quarter to go up 35-21 at halftime, and the Crusaders never got any closer than 10 points back. Leaders for West were Jamere Hill (27 points), Jaiden Lee (20 points) and Dakhari Jaudon (eight points).
“We felt that if we could control the 3-point line that we could control the game,” Tigers coach Jeremy Kreiger said. “Our base defense is what we want to win games with, so hard man-to-man pressure and being able to play help-side, and when we get stops, we want to get out and run in transition since we have a young, athletic group that loves to share the ball, and they get excitement out of seeing each other score.”
Also at Joliet West, Lincoln-Way East advanced to the title game after scoring the first 14 points to lead 18-6 after one quarter, 32-20 at halftime and 51-25 after three quarters in a 57-30 victory over Chicago Harlan. Top scorers for East were Ryan Sucha (17 points), Ryan Sierocki (eight points), Jhei-R Jones (seven points) and Matt Wasso (six points).
As was the case two years ago, when the Griffins beat the Tigers for the tournament title, they advanced to the title game on a day where the school’s football team also played for a state title. East coach Rich Kolimas is excited to add three of those football players to his squad in the weeks ahead.
In Friday’s action at the WJOL Tournament, Plainfield Central won another narrow victory by rallying for a 61-58 win over Lemont, while Providence Catholic used a slowdown approach to deny two-time defending champion Romeoville another title with a 35-32 win.
The Celtics (3-0) led 9-6 after one quarter and 16-8 at halftime.
The Spartans (2-1) outscored Providence 12-10 in the third quarter and 12-9 in the final quarter, but were unable to overcome making 10 of 37 shots and only 1 of 15 tries from behind the 3-point line.
Providence was led by Joe Alfirevich (13 points), Lucas Porto (six points, seven rebounds), Luke Pell (six points) and Jimmy Arentz (five points). The Spartans didn’t have returning tournament MVP Destin Whitaker or Dakoda Joachim in the lineup. Keedan Foster led Romeoville with 15 points, while Tyrell Ross-Childs had eight points and seven rebounds.
“Our game plan was to play at a slow pace and not get into a track meet with them and we were able to do that,” Celtics coach Kyle Murphy said. “It helped us slow down the pace when they went to a 2-3 zone and they had some of their key guys out, which helped us, but our guys battled. They made a run at us at the end, but we have great senior leadership and I thought we did a pretty good job down the stretch of rebounding.”
Lemont (2-1) used a 19-12 advantage in the second quarter to take a 28-19 halftime lead over the Wildcats (3-0). But coach Gregg Bayer’s team finished strong by outscoring the Indians 15-11 in the third quarter and 27-19 in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Shoemaker had 27 points and six assists to lead Central, while Mekhi Lunford (nine points), Tavari Johnson (eight points) and Javari Johnson (six points) were other leaders. Kyle Kostes also had 27 points for Lemont, with Billy Bozue (10 points), Luke Bailey (seven points, eight rebounds) and Kyle Lillwitz (eight points) being other top scorers.
“In the last two nights, we kind of dug ourselves into a hole,” Bayer said. “We faced two quality programs in Lockport and Lemont, but we found a way to fight back. These guys never quit and they battle. We also have some experience with three guys who’ve been on the varsity since sophomore year and experience goes a long ways in close games. Not that you always win them, but you’ve been there before in those scenarios.”