By Mark Gregory
The Bolingbrook boys basketball team this season is like a good prize fighter.
The Raiders know that as long as they can withstand an opponents’ first punch, they have the skill and ability to punch back later.
That was what happened Friday night in Bolingbrook’s 63-54 win over Lemont in the Sandburg Regional final.
The Raiders (27-1) were down to Lemont (16-12) early thanks in part to Indians’ guard P.J. Pipes, who became Lemont’s all-time leading scorer in the first quarter.
“We are fortunate enough to win and that is all you really ask for in this situation,” said Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost. “We don’t really worry about style points in the playoffs. I am really proud of how the guys kept their composure.
“That is a great team with one really, really, really, really good player and they had a perfect game plan for us. If there is a better No. 9 seed in the state, I would like to see them and since P.J has been back, they have only lost two games.”
With just more than 7 minutes left in the game, Lemont was up 49-48 and smelling one of the biggest upsets in the state.
But behind the play of Malik Binns, Kaleb Thornton and Nebraska recruit Nana Akenten, Bolingbrook stormed back and held off for the win.
“They came out here and they fought and we fought. We just have to keep our composure and keep playing,” Akenten said. “We just have to keep fighting. We are going to get everyone’s best – we have all year, but in the playoffs we are getting it even more.”
Binns led the Raiders with 16 points, while Akenten added 13 and Thornton 11.
Pipes equaled Binns’ 16 and ended his Lemont career with 1,259 points.