4A boys basketball: Jack Stanton, Downers Grove North defense does in Bolingbrook

Princeton recruit scores 23, Trojans win back-to-back sectional titles

Downers Grove players celebrate their win over Bolingbrook in the Class 4A East Aurora Boys Basketball Sectional final on Friday, March 1, 2024.

AURORA – Jack Stanton watched his 3-point attempt from the top of the key to end the third quarter hit the front of the rim, roll off the backboard and drop in and the Downers Grove North senior guard thought one thing.

“We’re going to win the sectional championship,” Stanton said.

Stanton showcased his shooter’s roll with that shot. The Princeton recruit and his teammates had it all rolling March 1 in a historic night for Downers Grove North.

Stanton scored 23 points and displayed a brilliant all-around game and second-seeded Downers Grove North put forth another masterful defensive clinic in beating top-seeded Bolingbrook 69-52 in the Class 4A East Aurora Sectional final.

Downers Grove North (31-4), a year after a magical run to fourth place in Class 4A, made more history March 1 with back-to-back sectional championships for the first time in school history. It’s the program’s third sectional title.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Downers Grove North coach Jim Thomas said. “Just the way the kids carry themselves and play and compete. I’m glad I have a front-row seat to it. We got a bunch of great kids playing well at the right time.”

Stanton shot 9 for 13 with three of Downers Grove North’s nine 3-pointers and also had five assists and four steals. Alex Miller added 16 points and hit four 3-pointers, Jake Riemer scored 10 points and Owen Thulin had 10 points and nine assists for the Trojans.

JT Pettigrew scored 16 points and KJ Cathey had 14 for Bolingbrook (27-5).

Downers Grove North’s Jack Stanton looks for an opening from under the basket during the Class 4A East Aurora Boys Basketball Sectional final against Bolingbrook on Friday, March 1, 2024.

All five Bolingbrook starters scored in the first quarter and the Raiders led by as many as six points. But Stanton’s NBA-range 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run that gave the Trojans a 21-16 lead midway through the second quarter.

Downers Grove North led 26-21 at halftime.

Stanton then scored nine of his 23 points in the third quarter as the Trojans opened up a double-digit lead.

“I was open, so I was like why not shoot it,” Stanton said of his deep 3-pointer in the second quarter. “I’m going to let it fly. My teammates trust me and I trust them.”

When he wasn’t making shots from all over the court, including a nifty fadeaway jumper in the lane to start the fourth quarter, Stanton was setting up his teammates with drives and assists. His 3-pointer to end the third quarter sent Downers Grove North into the fourth up 45-33.

“He’s a problem,” Thomas said. “I know everybody talks about Jack. I could sit here and tell you story after story. He just wills himself on other teams.”

Bolingbrook was able to get to the free-throw line 10 times in the first half in a physical game, but struggled to find any offensive rhythm. No surprise. Downers Grove North had not given up 40 points in a playoff game before March 1. The Trojans, who played their five starters virtually the entire game in the sectional semifinal, had to go eight-deep in the first half March 1 because of foul trouble, but didn’t miss a beat defensively.

Bolingbrook’s Davion Thompson (center) is surrounded by Downers Grove North’s Jack Stanton (left) and Owen Thulin (right) during the Class 4A East Aurora Boys Basketball Sectional final on Friday, March 1, 2024.

Bolingbrook managed only one field goal in an 11-minute stretch spanning the last minute of the first quarter to the first minutes of the third. Of Bolingbrook’s 43 shot attempts, 28 came from beyond the 3-point line and the Raiders rarely got anything in transition in shooting 37.2% for the game.

Downers Grove North shot a blistering 61.4% from the floor.

“That was a concern coming in was how we were going to score points,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “They’re very physical and tough. You have to give them a lot of credit. When they’re hitting shots like they did tonight, they’re really tough to beat.”

Thulin, two nights after holding Waubonsie Valley standout Tyreek Coleman to eight points, had a similar effort against dynamic Bolingbrook freshman Davion Thompson, who scored only seven points on 2-for-7 shooting.

“To be honest, just pressure him,” Thulin said. “I got four guys behind my back if I get beat. Knowing that, it helps me play on the ball.”

Joshua  Welge

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.