HINSDALE – In its Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic semifinal, Bolingbrook's boys basketball team was involved in a dogfight with Marian Catholic.
In Thursday night’s first semifinal, the Raiders led the Spartans, 42-36, with 6:53 left. At that point in the game, Raiders junior point guard Kaleb Thornton stepped up.
A Thornton basket was followed a Spartan hoop by Chris White (six points). Thornton answered with a picture-perfect pass to 6-foot-6 Malik Binns. The pass and subsequent score ignited a 15-2 run over the next three minutes. Game over, as Bolingbrook prevailed, 59-44.
Bolingbrook (9-0) received 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting plus five assists and three steals from Thornton. Bibbs, for the second game in a row in the tournament, hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds. He also accomplished the feat against Westinghouse in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Against Marian, the transfer from Morgan Park also scored 23 points while 6-foot-6 Nana Akenten added 15 points and eight boards.
“ I believe that Kaleb Thornton may be the best point guard in the state,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “He is a great distributor of the basketball, plays great defense and can shoot. Malik [Binns] and Nana [Akenten] dominated on the glass tonight and played well.”
In Friday night’s championship game, Brost’s Raiders take on none other that their longtime SouthWest Suburban Blue rivals from Homewood-Flossmoor. H-F (10-1) slipped past De Paul Prep, 41-40, in the second semifinal Thursday night.
“Tonight was a great team win,“ Thornton said. “We all played well. Malik and Nana were great tonight. All that I accomplished could not have been done without them. We have a great, longtime rivalry with H-F. It will be nice to play them for the championship.”
Akenten scored eight of his 15 points in the first quarter as the Raiders held an 18-14 lead after one. Akenten hit a pair of threes, the second one behind a semblance of the old picket-fence out-of-bounds play made famous in the movie “Hoosiers."
“Coach [Brost] dials up some cool plays for us,” Akenten said. “Everyone did their job and I had to knock down the three. Our team chemistry is the reason we are undefeated and we won this game. We all help each other out and are a real team.”
Akenten and Bins each had 12 points at the half as the Raiders took a 33-24 lead into the locker room. Binns hauled down 11 of his game-high 14 rebounds in the first half.
"We really played well tonight," Binns said. "We felt we didn’t play well against Westinghouse on Wednesday and came out tonight and did so. My job is to rebound and score and my teammates put me in position to do that.”
In the third quarter, five Raider turnovers led to Marian Catholic closing to within 40-34 after three quarters.
With 4:50 left, Binns' thunderous slam off another perfect pass from Thornton gave the Raiders a 52-38 lead. A minute later, Akenten struck from 25 feet and the Raiders led, 57-38.
Marian (8-5) was led by junior guard Chase Adams with 14 points.