The Bolingbrook High School boys basketball team lost eight games by three or less points last season, a statistic the Raiders hope doesn't repeat itself.
To fix the glitch, the Raiders are hoping to play with more intensity this season.
Bolingbrook head coach Rob Brost said the Raiders finished strong by going 5-3 to end the season 10-15. The Raiders beat Metea Valley 53-50 in the IHSA regionals, but lost to Neuqua Valley 53-44 in the quarterfinals matchup.
“No. 1 is to be tough,” Brost said for his team’s improved play. “We could tough some of those games out, obviously, the on-court little things like giving up a turnover offensive rebound here and there.
“The first thing it starts with is toughness and we have been teeing off it during practice, through when you have some adversity. Guys who are going to do that are going to be on the floor.”
Senior point guard Cameron Burnett said the Raiders sometimes lacked intensity last season.
“We are working hard all the time during practice,” said Burnett, who . “Last year, we would sometimes take breaks during a game. We are working on our toughness.”
Senior guard/forward Nick Malonga said practicing and following through with the fundamentals could be the difference between wins and losses.
“It’s the little things like closing out on defense, getting rebounds, making our layups,” Malonga said. “Just the layups are a huge thing. You win a lot more games if you make one more layup and not miss them. If we fix those, we will end up with more wins.”
One of the strengths for the Raiders, Brost said, is the experience the team has.
Brost said returning eight players from last season's squad, all of whom racked up significant minutes, should be a strength of the team.
“And then we have some younger, talented kids that we added to the mix as well," he said.
Returning seniors include Nick Little, Burnett, Malonga and Chad Cooke, who all played big minutes as juniors.
“We look for big things from all four of them,” Brost said.
Brost said he wants the seniors to be leaders on and off the court, and so far, they are responding.
“I’m going to try to be a leader,” Malonga said. “Since I’ve been on varsity for three years now, I know what it takes to have a winning season. You have to work hard and bring energy to every practice and we will do well.”
For some of the newcomers, 6-foot-7 junior Ben Moore received scholarship offers from IFPW and Minnesota State. Also, is getting looks from Illinois.
As for the conference, Brost said Homewood-Flossmoor, Joliet West and Lockport will be a challenge for the Raiders. However, he thinks Bolingbrook could be in the top half.
“If we don’t compete in the top half of the conference, I would be disappointed,” Brost said. “If we practice hard every day, the wins will take care of themselves.”
The seniors do not feel that is a hard goal to obtain.
“I feel like that’s really realistic,” Burnett said. “If we do we’re supposed to, we could be No. 1.”