Boys basketball: Bolingbrook overcomes slow start to topple Romeoville

Raiders trailed by double digits after first quarter but rebounded way to win

Bolingbrook’s Joshua Pettigrew pulls in a rebound against Romeoville on Wednesday, Jan. 3rd, 2024 in Bolingbrook.

BOLINGBROOK – Ideally, Bolingbrook wouldn’t dig itself a 12-point deficit in the first quarter.

But then again few teams have the kind of resolve and composure that the Raiders do, and they used those skills to rally and eventually claim a 68-58 victory over Romeoville on Wednesday night.

“This isn’t the first time that’s happened for us,” Bolingbrook’s J.T. Pettigrew said. “And each time we’re really good at just staying together, staying composed and coming together and coming back. We’re really good at that.”

So good that it didn’t seem like that early 12-point deficit rattled Bolingbrook (13-2) at all. The Romeoville (13-3) lead was basically erased in the first part of the second quarter, and then Bolingbrook took control of the game with an 8-2 run at the start of the third quarter, fueled by six points by Pettigrew. At the end of the run, Bolingbrook had a 39-36 lead. The Raiders didn’t relinquish it.

Bolingbrook’s Davion Thompson goes in for the basket against Romeoville on Wednesday, Jan. 3rd, 2024 in Bolingbrook.

“We really defended better after the first quarter,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “And then after that, we really defended like they had been taught and how they’d been defending against other really good teams. And no doubt about it, they [Romeoville] are a really good team. We did what we’re supposed to do, and now we got to come back and go back to work tomorrow.”

Pettigrew and freshman sensation Davion Thompson provided the lion’s share of the scoring in the second half, but there was another factor outside of the scoring that turned the tide in the Raiders favor. Bolingbrook, despite giving up some size in the paint to Romeoville’s 6-foot-10 center Adam Walker, rebounded with a fervor, particularly on the offensive glass. Pettigrew (13 rebounds) and Jason Lawani (11 points, 11 rebounds) routinely extended Bolingbrook possessions.

“We just had to lock in,” Lawani said. “You can’t really game plan for that. I like the contact that goes with it. Dog versus Dog. You got to have fun with it. The more contact the better.”

Even with those advantages, Bolingbrook had a difficult time finally shaking Romeoville loose for good. E.J. Mosley (14 points) connected on a 3-pointer at the third quarter horn to whittle Bolingbrook’s lead down to 46-45.

Romeoville’s Kendall Cutler looks to take a shot against Bolingbrook on Wednesday, Jan. 3rd, 2024 in Bolingbrook.

But Thompson (16 points) started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, and although Kendall Cutler (team-high 18 points) almost immediately answered with a basket for Romeoville, KJ Cathey and Thompson combined to score the next six points and Bolingbrook’s 10-2 scoring run finished by consecutive baskets from Pettigrew and Lawani seemed to totally deflate Romeoville’s hopes of mounting one last push.

“We talked about it earlier today, that they [Romeoville] were a team of runs,” Brost said. “We showed them a game where they were up 19-0 and then we showed it tight. Then we showed them a game where they were down, and then they were up 10 five minutes later. We knew this we going to happen because they are good at basketball, too.”

Romeoville was easily the aggressor to start the game as the Spartans built leads as large as 12 points in the first quarter and took a 24-14 lead after the first quarter. Mosley finished the quarter with nine points, and the Spartans were getting regular good looks at the basket.

But in a game of runs, Bolingbrook responded by scoring 12 of the first 14 points of the second quarter to tie the game at the 3:24 mark of the second quarter. Romeoville countered with a 8-0 run to seemingly recapture control of the game only to see the Raiders close that gap to just three points at the half (34-31).