PEORIA – A day after seeing its hopes for a state championship dashed, Bolingbrook’s boys basketball team closed its season with a win and a third-place trophy for the second time in the past three years.
The Raiders jumped out to an early advantage and were able to stay in front for most of the game in a 70-66 victory against Fremd in the Class 4A third-place game March 18 at Carver Arena.
“We wanted to get them up and down the floor and take advantage at the end,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We didn’t make the plays toward the end [March 17 in a semifinal] in the fourth quarter, and today we did.”
The game was tied 12-12 late in the first quarter when Bolingbrook kicked off a 12-3 run that turned the tide.
Tyler Cochran (11 points, six rebounds) started things with two straight baskets and assisted Malik Binns (18 points) for a layup to make it 18-12 before Fremd’s Kyle Sliwa (25 points) closed out the period with a 3-pointer.
A jumper and two free throws by Cochran and then a Binns layup gave the Raiders a 24-15 lead early in the second quarter.
The Vikings got as close as 30-27 before Bolingbrook grabbed a 37-30 halftime advantage. Binns finished the half with 12 points, while Nana Akenten had nine of his 16 points and Cochran added eight.
“Coming into the state tournament, our coach emphasized a lot that there’s only two teams in the state that are able to win their last game,” Akenten said. “We wanted to play in the state championship, but we fell short of that goal. We all had the same mindset and told each other that we were not going to lose our last game.”
Bolingbrook (30-2) led 46-36 early in the third quarter and was up 54-47 with eight minutes left.
But the Vikings got hot from 3-point range and took their lone lead of the second half at 64-63 on a trey with 2:39 left.
The Raiders moved back in front for good on two free throws by Binns with 45 seconds left.
Kaleb Thornton (10 points) made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to make it 67-64. Joseph Yesufu (12 points) added two free throws with eight seconds left, and Cochran sealed the victory with a late free throw.
Simeon 60, Bolingbrook 50
The Wolverines (29-3) used a 17-7 surge in the third quarter to turn a 26-21 halftime deficit into a 38-33 advantage entering the fourth in the semifinal win.
Trailing by six points in the first minute of the final quarter, the Raiders used a 7-0 run to briefly regain the lead at 40-39 with 6:55 left.
Cochran had a rebound basket, Akenten tossed in a jumper, and Yesufu connected on a 3-pointer to cap the run. Simeon stormed right back with a 13-2 run and never looked back.
Talen Horton-Tucker led Simeon with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Akenten (16 points), Binns (10 points, seven rebounds), Yesufu (nine points, six rebounds), Cochran (six points) and Kaleb Thornton (five points) led the way for the Raiders.