AURORA – And the freshmen shall lead them.
In the fourth quarter Thursday night against Montini, boys basketball coach Joe Gura gave Joliet Catholic fans a glimpse of the future, and rookie guards Jalen Jackson and Harold Davis did not disappoint.
While Jackson scored 5 of his team-high 10 points in the fourth, Davis exploded for all 6 of his points as the Hilltoppers suffered a 63-39 loss in third-round action of Aurora Christian’s Burney Wilkie Classic.
Why now? Why not.
“You never feel comfortable being down by 20 points, but we were OK,” said Jackson, who shot 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-of-6 from the line. “Coach put out the rest of our bench and we were going through our offense, doing what we had to do to try and get it closer. We were just hoping for the best.”
While the first half and the fourth quarter vied for being the best as far as Joliet Catholic (0-7) was concerned, Montini (3-0) made sure that went by the wayside with a mind-blowing third quarter.
Led by senior guard Logan Goss (19 points), junior forward Simmie Cobbs (10 points) and junior center Matt Brachmann (14 points, 10 rebounds), the Broncos outscored the Hilltoppers 21-6 and shot a blistering 10-of-15 from the floor. A pair of dunks by Cobbs sparked a game-changing 15-2 burst.
“We played the heck out of it in the first half,” said Gura, whose Hillmen trailed only 27-18 at halftime. “We got into good patterns, we got good looks and we were playing right with them. But when they got on that run during the third quarter, it was like our kids said, ‘Enough. That’s enough effort for one day.’
“Give Montini credit. They were the better team, and in the third quarter, their coach even said that was as good as he has seen them play in a long time. But I wasn’t happy with how we approached things.”
It meant extended minutes in the final quarter for Jackson, Davis and junior center/forward Dominic Bertino (4 points). Davis, Bertino and junior guard Fred Harvey each had 2 rebounds in the quarter – tying the Hilltoppers’ team total of 2 in the disastrous third. The fourth quarter played as a 15-15 tie.
Overall, senior forward Ryan Peter contributed 9 points and 6 rebounds for the Hilltoppers and sophomore Keegan Tyrell handled the point guard role with aplomb. Junior center Jimmy Elias, coming off a 14-point, 10-rebound effort in a 52-40 loss to tourney host Aurora Christian, added 4 points.
“I was really happy with KT (Tyrell), Jalen and Harold,” Gura said. “I also was happy with some of the things I saw from Elias. I was happy with a lot of things, but I was not happy with some of my seniors and that’s why those guys did not play at the end. We don’t want to fast forward to next year, but we will.”
“We let it go in the second half,” Jackson said. “We never had the lead, but what we had going, we let it go. We were taking bad shots when we came out in the second half and we really didn’t do anything.”
NOTES: Senior guard James Ragen sat out his third straight game due to injury for Joliet Catholic … Senior guard Keith Craig and Peter also sank 3-pointers for the Hillmen … Montini’s shooting numbers were top-notch. The Broncos nailed 55.3 percent (26-of-47) from the floor and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from three. The Hilltoppers struggled across the board, be it from the floor (31.6 percent, 12-of-38),from three (23.5 percent, 4-of-17) or from the line (52.4 percent, 11-of-21) … Goss shot 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-6 on threes, including 4-of-5 on threes in the first quarter … Brachmann had 12 points and 6 rebounds in the
second half … Cobbs tallied 8 points, Brachmann 6 and Goss 5 in the third
quarter … Peter picked up 8 points and 5 rebounds in the first half … The Hillmen were outrebounded 33-23.