Boys basketball: Bolingbrook takes down No. 1 Homewood-Flossmoor

Raiders clinch tie for SouthWest Suburban Blue title

Bolingbrook's KJ Cathey

FLOSSMOOR – It was extremely fitting that Bolingbrook senior KJ Cathey got the inbounds pass with three seconds to play and sprinted away from a Homewood-Flossmoor defense trying in vain to get a desperation foul Tuesday night.

Cathey had been a thorn in Homewood-Flossmoor’s side all night and was a big part of the Raiders’ ability to claim a 65-63 SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue victory over Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked Vikings.

“It felt real good. I was just living in the moment,” Cathey said after securing his team’s win. “After they beat us the first time, we were like, ‘We’ve got to get this one.’ They beat us on our home court, so we needed to win on theirs. We had to make it even.”

It looked for a while that Bolingbrook (23-4, 7-1 SWSC Blue) would breeze to the win and secure a tie for the conference championship between the two schools. The Raiders built a lead of 48-35 late in the third quarter, and Homewood-Flossmoor’s vaunted offense was sputtering.

The Vikings (26-4, 7-1) did make a bit of a push with a 6-0 run right after the Raiders built that 13-point lead, but a resilient Bolingbrook team wasn’t shaken and still held a 12-point lead with six minutes to play.

But H-F wouldn’t go down without a fight. A succession of 3-pointers from Dominic Pangallo, Carson Brownfield and Jayden Tyler erased nearly all of the Bolingbrook advantage, trimming the lead to 60-57 with 3:21 to play.

The free-throw line then came into play.

J.T. Pettigrew split a pair of free throws to build the lead back to four, and on the verge of potentially extending the lead again on its next possession, Bolingbrook’s bench drew a technical foul to give H-F a chance to pull closer again.

The Vikings’ Gianni Cobb split a pair of the free throws for the technical, and Bryce Heard later converted a three-point play to tie the game at 61 with 1:45 to play.

With the Raiders leading 62-61 after Davion Thompson spilt a pair of free throws, Cathey delivered a huge basket to put Bolingbrook up 64-61 with a minute to play.

“KJ is kind of our utility knife,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “If we need a stop, he gets it. And you see some of the out-of-bounds unders that he scores on. He defends well. He’s kind of our glue to the whole thing, and to his credit, he just does his job.”

H-F kept pushing the envelope, however, as Cobb scored and was fouled on the Vikings’ next possession but couldn’t convert the free throw to tie the game.

Thompson also couldn’t put the game away for Bolingbrook at the 21-second mark, splitting a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 65-63.

H-F worked the clock down to seven seconds before launching a 3-pointer that missed. Bolingbrook got its hands on the rebound but couldn’t quite secure it before the ball trickled out of bounds.

The Vikings’ first attempt to inbound the ball led to a timeout, and the second inbounds pass resulted in a loose ball where Thompson and – who else? – Cathey forced a tie-up. The possession arrow favored the Raiders, and a slip screen freed Cathey to receive the inbounds pass and dribble away from the H-F defense in securing the win.

“I’m just proud of our guys,” Brost said. “We dealt with a little adversity, and some of it is was not caused by our own doing. So I was proud of our guys for sticking together the whole time. People talk about how poised we are, but we still start a freshman and a sophomore in the backcourt.

“I don’t know who scored the points and who got the rebounds. I don’t know any of that. I just love these guys, and that’s the most important thing.”

Pettigrew led the Raiders with 22 points, Cathey finished with 15, and Thompson contributed 13. In all, only seven Bolingbrook players scored, but all seven seemed to deliver points in crucial situations.

“We stay together for the whole game,” Cathey said. “We stay composed, and our coaches put us in a great spot to lead us to the victory.”