By Mark Gregory
While Joliet West only has three losses, two of them were back-to-back losses to Whitney Young and Bolingbrook – a pair of the top teams in the state.
“We had two very big games and granted we are 0-2 in those games, but we didn’t walk out of either of those games and say, ‘we need to make a drastic change,’ because that is not the case,” Joliet West coach Nick DiForti said after the Tigers’ 84-74 loss to Bolingbrook. “Looking at film, we will see some of the things that we need to work on.”
DiForti knows that no matter the outcome of the game with the Raiders, the two teams will likely still be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the sectional and – if seeds hold – will meet again to determine the sectional champion.
“There are little things that we need to work on, obviously, but we have been in games like this. We have played in a lot of spotlight games and big games in Peoria and this can only help us,” he said. “No one wins a state championship in January. We can only take what we learned in this game and hopefully see them again down the road.”
In the loss, the Raiders were able to execute their game plan, even doing some things Joliet West prides itself on.
“Hats off to them, they did a great job of penetrating the lane and that was the difference maker in the game,” DiForti said. “They were crashing the boards really hard and that is something we like to envy ourselves on – second chance points. Their guards really attacked the lanes on us and even when they missed, they were really crashing the boards and getting second and third chance points.”
DiForti is not concerned with West as it battles through the rest of the season just because a team makes a run on the Tigers.
“The experience of the past two years and these guys playing together, we understand teams are going to go on runs – especially a team like Bolingbrook,” he said.
West snapped its two-game skid with a 69-66 Southwest Prairie Conference win over Romeoville.
In the win, Teyvion Kirk led West with 19 points, while Eddie Creal added 17 points and Tabyous Casterberry added 14.