Boys Basketball: Big run enough for Joliet West vs Lockport
Updated: February 24, 2012 10:41PM
A physical and defensive SouthWest Suburban Blue battle that neither team led by more than six points seemed to be slipping away from visiting Joliet West.
Lockport led 35-31 with 2:13 left Friday night, and after a timeout, the Porters ran nearly a minute off the clock before they got the layup they wanted. But it rolled off the rim.
Just like that, the tide turned. West went on a 9-0 run, hitting seven of eight free throws en route to a thrilling and much-needed 40-38 victory.
The outcome was not secured until 6-foot-9 center Marlon Johnson, who had made two free throws with 1:01 remaining and scored a huge rebound basket with 0:22 to go, nailed two foul shots for a 40-35 lead with :02.5 on the clock. In a touch of irony, Brandon Sawin swished a half-court shot at the buzzer for Lockport (16-11, 6-8) after the Porters had so much difficulty scoring the last three minutes.
“It’s on me. Coach (Luke) Yaklich did a better job making sure his kids finished at the end of the first half and end of the game,” Lockport coach Lawrence Thompson Jr. said of his counterpart. “I know this was game 27, but we still can do it. We still can find the right way to finish.”
“It was a hard-fought game where you knew neither side would quit,” said Yaklich, whose team has been scuffling. “The kids on both side know each other so well.
“I’m proud of our seniors. It was a great way to end the season, and it could be a momentum builder toward a long postseason run.”
Johnson, who scored eight of his 14 points and grabbed four of his seven rebounds in the fourth quarter after picking up his fourth foul with 2:29 left in the third, agreed. “This is a great feeling going into the playoffs,” he said.
Johnson said he never lost faith even when West (16-9, 9-5) trailed late 35-31. “I had a lot of confidence because I knew we could go get the offensive boards,” he said. “I wanted to score. I told the guys we were going to win.”
Yaklich called it a game that “was won within 6-10 feet of the basket.” That being the case, Johnson, Brian Edwards (10 rebounds) Brandon McCullum (seven) were keys.
John Campbell led Lockport with nine points and six rebounds. Billy Reed, who went up against Johnson much of the way, added seven boards.