Boys Basketball

Lockport fails to come all the way back in loss to West Aurora

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PONTIAC – Things were about as bad as they could be for the Lockport boys basketball team as it tipped off the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Tuesday morning against West Aurora.

The Porters fell behind 15-0 and finally broke the seal on the rim with 36 seconds to play in the first quarter to avoid being shut out in the first quarter.

Things improved substantially after the first-quarter debacle, but despite erasing that initial deficit, the Porters (6-4) were unable to put the cap on their comeback, losing, 46-37, to the Blackhawks.

“This is like the fifth game in a row where we’ve gotten down at the beginning to various degrees, really big today, obviously,” Lockport coach Brett Hespell said. “We did find some energy defensively, and that motivated us a little and got us going, but we have to find that earlier if we want to beat good teams like West Aurora.”

The loss drops Lockport into the consolation bracket, where it will face Peoria Manual at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Manual lost its opening round matchup to New Trier, 65-44.

In the first quarter, the Porters missed a number of point-blank scoring opportunities, and their long-range shooting didn’t find the mark, a problem that would plague them almost the entire game. Meanwhile, West Aurora wasn’t experiencing the same problem, as the Blackhawks got a strong first-half scoring effort from Ty Rogers, who poured in 13 points before the break.

But the Blackhawks were far from flawless in the first half themselves. A number of turnovers kept Lockport in the game. The Porters finally started to capitalize on scoring opportunities, and a 9-3 run pulled them to within 25-17 at halftime.

The momentum swing kept going in Lockport’s favor after the break, as Lockport pieced together a 9-3 scoring run, tying the game at 28 on a Niko Vassilakis free throw with 4:22 to play in the third quarter.

Lockport claimed its first and only lead, 32-30, on a Julius Smith lay-in late in the third quarter. A Kenyon Weakley basket for West Aurora knotted the score again at 32 to end the quarter, and then West Aurora’s Josh Pickett took over.

Pickett, a sophomore, hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and then hit two more over the next few possessions. Lockport scuffled to answer, and after Pickett’s flurry and another 3-pointer from Rogers (17 points), Lockport suddenly found itself trailing by double digits again, 44-34.

Lockport scored only five points in the fourth quarter, shot 30% from the floor and made only two of its 18 3-point attempts in the game.

Smith led Lockport with nine points, while Ethan Gallagher and Vassilakis added eight each.

Simeon 65, Plainfield North 28

Plainfield North struggled to keep second-seeded Simeon out of the lane, and over time that led to a lopsided decision in favor of the Wolverines.

Simeon (7-1) finished with 38 points in the paint and that inside dominance carried over to the other end of the floor, where a number of Plainfield North’s shots were altered and hurried.

Plainfield North trailed 7-5 early on as Jeffrey Fleming, who led all scorers with 16 points, kept the Tigers close, but Simeon rattled off a 14-2 scoring run that carried into the middle of the second quarter, and the Wolverines ended up taking a 27-11 lead into the break.

After Thomas Fitzgerald opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Simeon promptly scored the game’s next 13 points, essentially securing the win.

Plainfield North will play Warren, which dropped its opening-round game to Oak Park-River Forest, 80-55, in a consolation-round contest at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Note to readers: Joliet West’s opening-round game at Pontiac against Bloom Township tipped off too late for the Herald-News print deadline.