LOCKPORT – Coming back after a loss, especially the next day, is important for the psyche of a team, and that is exactly what Joliet West had in mind when it traveled to Lockport on Tuesday and came away with a 46-30 nonconference win.
The Tigers (18-3) looked sluggish after Monday’s late game, something West coach Jeremy Kreiger was concerned about. Kreiger substituted freely in the first half and used his entire roster during the game.
“Last night’s game really took a toll on us tonight,” Kreiger said. “It went to overtime and was a very physical game, along with the fact we knew Lockport would more than likely play a zone and wanted to keep the pace slow.”
That is exactly what the Porters did, with both teams playing great defense in the first half, as Lockport (8-11) led 8-6 after the first quarter. Both teams had to use plenty of time during each possession just to find the opportunity to get a shot.
The second quarter saw the Tigers’ Trent Howland score seven of his game-high 15 points as the Tigers held a slim 16-15 lead at the break.
“We had some great opportunities in the first half to give us a little cushion, but we just have to learn how to convert some shots inside,” Lockport coach Brett Hespell said.
But as the teams came out of the locker room for the second half, the Tigers’ Jamere Hill did not come out. He injured his ankle late in the second quarter and finally made it to the bench just as the game was about to continue, but did not play in the second half.
“Jamere has been doing some ankle exercises to try and strengthen his ankles, but he just couldn’t go in the second half,” Kreiger said. “If there is a silver lining, we only have one more game this week then we don’t play again until the following Friday, so he’ll get some extended rest, and he’ll be just fine.”
In the third quarter, the Tigers outscored the Porters, 20-8, by using more of the transition game, especially after a defensive stop, as they took a 36-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
Tre’Vonta Hall (nine points) scored seven points and Howland added another six for the Tigers, and it appeared they had this one well in hand.
However, the Porters did not give up and came out in the fourth quarter and scored seven consecutive points. They held West scoreless until the 2:44 mark when Jaiden Lee (10 points) scored to make it 38-30, and the Tigers scored the next eight points.
“Our ability to turn our defense into offensive points was the key in that third quarter,” Kreiger said. “We got back to playing our type of basketball.
“Tonight really helped us playing against Lockport and their defense, which is very good, because this is the type of style of ball we will see come March. I told our guys that we are learning every time out, and this will help us each game as the season progresses.”
Matas Deksnys led Lockport with eight points, Evangelos Vassilakis added seven and Tommy Ferriter scored six points.
“We played well again defensively tonight, and I’m proud of the effort,” Hespell said. “Give West credit, they are a great team, and we have played some of the best teams in the state this year, and we have hung with them for the most part. We just have to find a way.”