Hales strong forward Johnny Fox has been on varsity for three years. During that time he has yet to experience the championship game of the McDipper Holiday Tournament at Rich South.
He’ll finally get to do that. The No. 7 Spartans held on to defeat Bolingbrook 66-53 on Monday night. They’ll face Rich South on Tuesday to attempt to win their first title since the Patrick Miller-led 2009 team.
“This is a great feeling and we have to come out and play hard every game and that’s what it takes to win a championship,” Fox said. “The beginning of the season our goal was to win every tournament. The Dipper is our second stop. Every time we’ve been the No. 1 seed we’ve won the championship.
“We started pressuring them and forcing turn overs and setting up fast breaks.”
Fox tied teammate Joseph Larry for a team-high 15 points. The 6-6 Fox added 11 rebounds and helped contain 6-9 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit Julian Torres, who had six points and four rebounds. Dominic Christian added 11 points for the Spartans, whose only loss is to St. Joseph.
The Raiders (6-3) had two players in double figures — Broderic Thomas had 12 and Demitri Akenten chipped in 10.
The Spartans went on runs in each of the first three quarters — 11-0 in the first, 17-6 in the second, and 14-5 in the third — to build a 49-38 lead after three. The Raiders had four fouls to give with under 3 minutes left and fouled their way into the bonus to try and mount a comeback.
They pulled within 57-51 with 2:10 left in the fourth after a basket by Colorado State-recruit Prentiss Nixon. A game-ending 9-2 run on 7-for-9 free throw shooting sealed the win.
“We are excited to be back and as a program we value the Dipper so much,” Hales coach Gary London said. “Anytime you get to the final four or the championship game it’s really special.”