By: Luke Drase
It’s been over 20 years since Romeoville last claimed a regional title, but you would never have guessed it based on the anticipation and environment surrounding their non-conference matchup against district foe Bolingbrook.
The Romeoville faithful came out in droves, filling their gym to the rafters for a chance to see their fifth ranked Spartans take down number seven Bolingbrook, last years third place finisher in class 4A.
Unfortunately for Romeoville, a turnover plagued third quarter dampened the mood and erased any chance the Spartans had of winning the rivalry game, as Bolingbrook (6-0) cruised to a 84-63 victory.
“We got challenged a little bit. The talent levels are relatively even and our kids had to adjust to that” said Bolingbrook head coach Rob Brost. “It’s the first time we’ve really been challenged this year so I was proud of them for that but we have work to do. this was a regular season non-conference game and we have to get back to work.”
With the backing of the home crowd, Romeoville raced out to a 16-13 lead not letting the moment get the better of them, but the momentum soon shifted when a technical foul was issued against the Spartans for hanging on the rim.
Bolingbrook took advantage of the opportunity as they slowly started to build more confidence throughout the half, and would eventually take a 32-30 halftime lead behind solid performances from Joseph Saracco (10 points) and Tyler Cochran.
“He (Saracco) plays very hard,” said Brost. “He’s still adjusting to the speed at which we play with, but he’s sure nice to have.””
Cochran in particular played a major role for the Raiders. Despite being questionable with an ankle injury, the junior guard looked none the worse for ware as he had a team high 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“Pain medicine, lots of it.” Cochran said when asked about how he played with a bad ankle. “I wasn’t worried about my ankle, I just fought for my teammates because I know they had my back so I wanted to have their back.”
But as solid as Romeoville looked early, everything fell apart for the Spartans in the second half. Bolingbrook ramped up the defensive pressure to the extent where Romeoville struggled to even get the ball across half court.
Bolingbrook used this spell to extend their lead to 13 points by the midway point of the third quarter and never looked back.
“We thought we could ware them down in the second half and thats exactly what happened,” said Brost. “We thought we could get after them over 32 minutes and it didn’t really happen until the third quarter, but once it started, it happened in a big wave.”
“We talked about turning up the heat and that’s what we did in the second half,” added Bolingbrook junior Joseph Yesufu.
Romeoville were never able to regain their composure, while Bolingbrook continued to pile it on until the game would mercifully end with a 84-63 win for the Raiders.
In addition to the contributions from Saracco and Cochran, Kaleb Thorton added 19 points and five assists with Yesufu chipping in 11 points and five rebounds. Romeoville were paced by Eddie Creal with 16 points in the loss.
Bolingbrook will travel to Iowa for a tough couple of games with Romeoville will having a a chance to rebound straight away with a Thursday night matchup against Plainfield North.