Wednesday’s game between Bolingbrook and Neuqua Valley came down to a last second shot by Neuqua senior guard Tyler Sutton, who initially missed the game-winning 3-pointer as time was running out.
The Raiders, though, failed to box out Neuqua junior center Pat Kenny, who grabbed the air ball and swished a hook shot along the left baseline at the buzzer and handed Bolingbrook a 50-48 road loss.
“We ran a good play at the end there,” Kenny said. “Tyler got a great look. He missed it, which happens, but I got the offensive rebound and luckily got it in.”
Bolingbrook (5-3, 3-0 Southwest Suburban) trailed 44-34 entering the fourth quarter. Head coach Rob Brost decided to go back to the press in order to force some turnovers. The strategy paid off, as the Wildcats (3-4, 0-2 Upstate Eight) committed five that quarter, resulting to easy fast break points for the Raiders.
“The press was effective for us in the second quarter as well,” said Brost, whose team forced 22 turnovers. “We probably should have started with it as it might have helped our energy a little bit. That one is on me.”
Freshman guard Prentiss Nixon came off the bench and provided a strong spark, scoring eight points—six-straight for the Raiders to make it 46-40 with 4 minutes remaining in the game.
“I just found my rhythm,” said Nixon, who shot 3-of-8 from the floor. “I knew that I had to shoot the ball in order to get my team back into the game. I just did what I could to make it close.”
Bolingbrook seniors Josh Little and Alec Boyd scored quick baskets while senior Chad Cooke scored his only points off a fast break steal with a minute left, making it 48-46 Neuqua.
Nixon then stole the ball, and junior forward Ben Moore layed it in for the tie.
“Initially, it says that we weren’t ready to play at the beginning of the game,” Brost said. “I give our kids credit for fighting back twice from double-digit deficits of 15- and 11-points in the first half. We dug ourselves too much of a hole.”
Sutton said the Wildcats broke through the Raiders’ press by good passing to get open 3-point attempts—he got 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
Moore lead the way with 17 points on a 7-of-9 shooting performance and also recorded four rebounds. Kenny and junior guard Jabari Sandifer added 11 and 12 points for the Wildcats, respectively. The Wildcats outrebounded Bolingbrook 26-16.
Bolingbrook will play Marian Catholic next the day after Christmas at 5:30 p.m. in the McDipper Christmas Tournment. Brost said his Raiders have to start games quicker while giving more lane and post touches to their post players.