Boys Basketball: Joliet West learns from history
By Dick Goss email@example.com January 26, 2013 12:26AM
Joliet West's Alias Roberts-Burnett drives for a layup as Lockport's Markeese Wright defends. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:51AM
Two years ago, Joliet West might have been in trouble after struggling to score 11 points in the first half.
The Tigers of 2010-11 finished 9-16. They were young.
Guard Carl Terrell and forward Brandon McCullum were sophomores. Another sophomore guard, Ryan Modiest, was promoted to the varsity at midseason. Sophomore standout Morris Dunnigan, who was on the varsity as a freshman, was unavailable because of ACL surgery.
But what happened then was all those Tigers, now seniors, gained valuable experience. They improved to 17-9 last season.
Now, at 12-5 overall and 5-2 in the SouthWest Suburban Blue, they have a pretty good idea what needs to be done when they’re on the road trailing Lockport 12-11 at halftime, as they were Friday night.
“We took that sophomore season as a learning experience,” said Terrell, who scored 19 points in the second half Friday, 23 in all. “Remy (Roberts-Burnett) and Brandon (Tyson) took us under their wing. They taught us a lot.”
“These are mentally tough kids,” West coach Luke Yaklich said. “This was a dogfight, and they never got rattled.
“The big question is, if you don’t shoot real well, like happened to us (Friday), are you still engaged defensively? We were.”
Yaklich said junior guard Alias Roberts-Burnett, Remy’s brother, provided the energy off the bench to help the Tigers fight through their poor shooting in the first half. When Terrell caught fire, and then Modiest, in the second half, the knockout blow had been delivered.
After such an awful start offensively, West wound up shooting 40 percent and nailed 8-of-14 three-pointers in a 56-47 victory.
“We stayed locked in defensively and good things started happening in the third quarter,” Yaklich said.
“Once we started hitting shots, everyone got up. We rebounded better and dove for the ball more,” Terrell said.
But what about that first half?
“I don’t want to see us score 11 in the first half again,” Terrell said.
“Those kids, Terrell and McCullum, have been on the varsity three years, and Modiest came up during the sophomore year,” Lockport coach Lawrence Thompson Jr. noted. “They’ve been doing that for a while now.
“They’ve got seniors, our guards are juniors. It does make a difference. You can see the difference, although our kids are getting better running our offense.”
Dunnigan entered Friday night averaging 17 points, Terrell and Modiest 10 and McCullum 9.5. While Dunnigan is the key, the other three know their roles, defend and are capable of stepping up offensively on a given night.
That could be a recipe for success down the stretch and in the postseason.
The Tigers get their rematch at Homewood-Flossmoor on Tuesday night, and Terrell noted it’s big for more than one reason.
“We’re going for the No. 3 seed in the (Thornton) sectional,” he said. “It’s probably Bloom and Marian Catholic, and then us and H-F.”
These West seniors have been building toward their big opportunity for a while now.