By Mark Gregory
Many high school sports rivalries start the same place as Bolingbrook and Romeoville – as a pair of neighboring towns.
What separates the two from a lot of others is the fact that the two schools share a school district, but are in opposing athletic conferences.
Because of that, the game between the two happens only once and year and usually brings out the communities to support their teams.
That was the case last week when the two Valley View School District schools battled at Romeoville, with the visiting Raiders winning 54-50 in one of the better rivalry games in years past.
“Bolingbrook is a very good team,” said Romeoville coach Marc Howard. “They have earned everything they got. Coach (Rob) Brost and the staff do a very good job over there. We just want to showcase that little brother is not as little and as small as it used to be. We are taking some strides in the right direction and that we are going to compete and battle and make this rivalry game a tough, competitive game.”
Brost was pleased with the win in front of the loud Spartan crowd.
“I am proud of how we came into a tough place to play and won on the road in the battle of Valley View. Everybody builds this up and I am really proud of our guys. Our bench had a lot of energy tonight, even the guys that didn’t play, so I am proud of all of our guys,” he said. “Obviously, there is a difference in philosophy in the two programs, but we have guys that have been together and have played together for a long time and that makes it a lot more fun.”
The win was not lost on the players either.
“It is always nice to come out here and get the win in these cross town rivalry games,” said Bolingbrook junior Nana Akenten. “This was a good atmosphere and everyone always to come out here and compete.”
Akenten led all scorers with 21 points, including a pair of threes and shooting 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Akenten also dominated the boards late, helping the Raiders hold off a possible Romeoville comeback.
“We have been telling that elite players rebound the ball and that is what we expect him to be,” Brost said. “He is close now. That has been a part of his game that we have been stressing and tonight he came out and did just that. He has all the skills to be an elite player and he is moving in that direction, he is just refining some things. He is like most of our players, this is the first time around for him. We have to be patient, but he has to make corrections, which he is and I am proud of that.”
Romeoville was paced by 20 from senior Matt Cappelletti.
“Our guards struggled shooting,” Howard said. “I thought Cappelletti fought for his numbers and played pretty well. We played hard, we battled and just couldn’t make those shots when we needed to.
I feel like this season there are a number of games where we had the opportunity to win the game we just make those young mistakes. That wasn’t the case in this game, we just didn’t make shots.”