ROMEOVILLE – When a basketball team goes on a 22-0 run early in the second half, there usually isn’t much drama in the late stages of the game.
But Wednesday’s Valley View School District rivalry game between Bolingbrook and host Romeoville wasn’t like most games.
Bolingbrook trailed, 46-40, early in the third quarter before going on a 22-0 run to go up 62-46 with three minutes left in the third, but Romeoville closed the gap to four points twice late in the game before the Raiders held on for a 75-65 victory over the Spartans.
It was a rewarding win for Bolingbrook, which was coming off another big win over a good Marian Catholic team the night before. And other than a rough third quarter, Romeoville played well enough to pick up a win most nights.
With Darius Burford leading the way with 33 points, the Raiders improved to 15-4, while the Spartans fell to 11-10 on the season.
Burford, who had 21 points in the first half and grabbed seven rebounds, scored 12 of the first 13 points during the big third quarter spurt in which Romeoville went without a basket for a span of 6:15.
“We had a few bad offensive possessions, but we got multiple stops, and our defense was incredible,” Burford said. “So I have to give it up to my teammates, since they put in me great positions to step up and hit shots. We go so hard at practice that this is like nothing to us. Every day in practice we’re going hard, so we can go back-to-back.”
The Raiders took a 64-50 lead into the fourth quarter and benefited from four baskets from Kai Evans (19 points) and three free throws from Isaiah Stafford (14 points, 10 rebounds) to help stave off the Spartans, who got big games from Trayton Trice (21 points, seven rebounds) and Destin Whitaker (20 points) to remain in the contest.
“Last night we beat a top 10-ranked team at their place, and then we come here, which is always a tough game for us,” Raiders coach Rob Brost said. “So I’m proud of our kids since we figured it out in the second half. We made it a little tougher on ourselves than we needed to at the end, but you have to give Romeoville credit since their kids played hard and played very together.”
Romeoville, which led, 24-19, after one quarter, also received 12 points from Keedan Foster and nine points from Diego Durr. In the final quarter, the Spartans closed to within 66-62 on a 3-pointer by Whitaker and then to within 68-64 on two free throws from Durr.
“We played a great first half, and I thought we did a good job in the fourth quarter since we cut it as low as four,” Spartans coach Marc Howard said. “So we had a four- or five-minute span in the third quarter that lost us the game. Credit to those guys for persevering and looking for an opportunity and making the best of it.”