Goss: Plate of Thanksgiving leftovers at Joliet West
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2013 5:12PM
Bolingbrook's Kendall Guyton (25) drives against Joliet West's Ryan Modiest (15). | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:31PM
Our attention may have been elsewhere on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.
Lincoln-Way East and Morris were among the schools playing for state football championships. The finals of the WJOL Thanksgiving Classic were being played at University of St. Francis.
Meanwhile, across town at Joliet West, the Tigers and Bolingbrook were squaring off for the championship of the Joliet West Thanksgiving Classic. From all accounts, the game was close all the way and well played, with West getting the job done down the stretch to win 63-56.
Of course, the No. 2 Tigers (9-4) and No. 1 Raiders (11-4) are two of the best teams in the Joliet area and both are members of the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
You know what that means. The meeting at Thanksgiving was a prelude of what was to come, two more get-togethers in the conference.
The first of those battles — a plate of tasty Thanksgiving leftovers — is on tap at 7:30 p.m. Friday at West. The two teams are 3-1 atop the conference, as are Joliet Central, Lockport and Homewood-Flossmoor. Also Friday, Lockport is at Joliet Central. So the winners at the two Joliet sites will continue to share the lead while the losers will be chasing, at least for a while.
In the Bolingbrook game at Thanksgiving at West, Tigers 6-foot-2 guard Morris Dunnigan scored 31 points. In last week’s 60-49 victory over Joliet Central, he scored 25 of his 32 in the second half.
In two of the Tigers’ three games at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament at Christmas, he notched 28 and 25.
You get the idea Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost, whose team is coming off a 58-48 Wednesday loss to undefeated and state-ranked Neuqua Valley, is devising a plan to slow down Dunnigan, the same way West coach Luke Yaklich must be concerned with Raiders 6-8 forward Ben Moore, who has committed to SMU. Moore scored 16 in the first meeting, when 6-3 slasher Kendall Guyton had 20 for Bolingbrook and Carl Terrell chipped in 17 for West.
My feeling is Dunnigan and Moore will not be completely shut down. You can’t expect that to happen. They are the midseason candidates, along with Providence guard Kevin Kozan and Lemont guard Juozas Balciunas, for Player of the Year in our area. Even when they are not scoring at will, they are effective offensive players because both can handle the ball and are good passers.
Both have teammates who can be explosive scorers, especially if they get into a rhythm. I’m wondering, with all the other weapons Bolingbrook sports, whether West will have enough strength inside to deal with the Raiders’ 6-6 wide body, Kenny Williams.
One way or another, the outcome should come down to defense — both preventing points and creating turnovers — and rebounding and how well bench players on each side contribute in those areas.
After last week’s win over Joliet Central, Yaklich cited the Tigers’ “practice team. Our second-team guys did a great job preparing our starters for this game and they deserve credit.”
Basketball is a 5-on-5 game but in a quality match-up such as this, it often goes deeper.
Every week for the rest of the season will bring interesting, likely tight, match-ups in the Southwest Prairie. I was thinking about that Tuesday night after covering Plainfield North’s 66-63 overtime victory at Plainfield South.
If anyone is going to challenge Oswego for the league title, it probably is Minooka. Both are 4-0 in the SPC heading into Friday’s game at Minooka. Plainfield North (3-1) visits Plainfield East (2-2) in a contest between two teams that feel they can challenge for spots in the upper half of the league. Minooka escaped East 55-51 on Tuesday.
Then there’s Friday’s Romeoville (0-4) at Plainfield South (1-3) game. Not many wins in the SPC between them, but both have reason to believe they can be competitive the rest of the way.
I heard it said more than once at the Romeoville Christmas Classic that Jeff Bambule is doing an excellent coaching job, that his Spartans have improved significantly since Thanksgiving. When I talked with South coach Tim Boe after Tuesday’s game against North, he said his team still has to learn how to finish but there were things he saw that he definitely liked, including the energy his kids showed.
It may be difficult for our area to achieve much postseason success because of the sectional assignments. However, it appears the two conferences that house a majority of our large schools will offer plenty of competitive basketball over the second half of the regular season. That merits a thumbs up.