ROMEOVILLE – A 36-18 overall rebounding edge and a clutch fourth quarter from Bengal Wilyam Wright led the defending Southwest Prairie Conference boys basketball champion Plainfield East (9-5, 4-1) to a thrilling 40-37 victory over Romeoville on Tuesday night.
The Bengals played without their 6-foot-5, University of Illinois-bound senior Aaron Jordan. The future Fighting Illini sat out another game recovering from an undisclosed injury.
“I won’t go into the extent of Aaron’s injury, but I will just say he is just not ready yet,” Plainfield East coach Branden Adkins said.
Wright (nine points, seven rebounds), who grabbed five offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone, scored seven points in the fourth quarter. Two steals, two buckets and then a 20-foot dagger from the corner gave the Bengals a 37-25 lead with 4:24 left in the game.
“I received a great pass and was fortunate to bury the big 3-pointer to give us a commanding lead,” Wright said. “This was a good win and showed us how well we can compete without Aaron on the court.”
Romeoville (5-9, 1-5) rallied behind freshman London Stamps (15 points, three 3-pointers). Stamps’ second 3 of the contest brought the Spartans within 36-32 with 1:42 remaining. After four crucial free throws by Bengal junior Jordan Reed (11 points), Stamps struck again from three with 1.1 second left.
Reed was fouled and missed a pair of free throws; and after the second miss, the clock ran out on the Spartans.
In a sluggish first half, the Bengals took a 16-10 lead at the break. Six-foot-8 senior James Claar (13 points, 10 rebounds) led the Bengals with seven points and four rebounds, Claar dominated the game in the third quarter, when he scored six points and had four offensive rebounds. The Bengals held a 20-8 rebounding edge on the Spartans, including 10 offensive, at the half.
“We played good defense early on and got a good lead,” Claar said. “We let them back in the game, but it was great to come out of here with a win. We really want to defend our conference championship and win the SWSP again this year.”
With the win, the Bengals stay atop the SWPC standings along with the winner of the night’s Oswego-Plainfield North game. Six-foot-7 junior Elyjah Goss scored only three points but hauled in 10 rebounds, five on the offensive glass.
“We defended pretty well early on but let up later in the game,” Atkins said. “We didn’t finish well but hit free-throws down the stretch and got out of here with a big road win. Wilyam gave us a lot of energy off the bench, and James had a fine game for us. We’re still tied in the conference and just have to move forward.”
Romeoville’s 6-foot-5 junior Matt Cappelletti scored 11 points and hauled in six rebounds for the Spartans.