Joliet West didn’t have the best of weeks last week, losing to Marian Catholic but then rebounding with a victory on the road at Lincoln-Way East.
And although the Tigers lost the top spot in this week’s rankings they still are getting close to where coach Luke Yaklich wants them to be.
“We didn’t play with the same type of energy (against Marian Catholic), but we came back at Lincoln-Way East and I’m very proud of our team now,” Yaklich said. “By February, we’re going to be a totally different team.”
Regional play in Class 3A and 4A begins Feb. 25.
West will get an earlier taste of tourney play at the 82nd Pontiac Holiday Tournament, where it is seeded fifth and will open Dec. 27 against Niles West.
Along with usual suspects Morris Dunnigan and Carl Terrell, Yaklich heaped praise on senior post player Andre Hardy. The 6-foot-7 Hardy has “been exceptional” on the boards and is averaging about eight rebounds a game.
Off the bench, Allias Roberts-Burnett has been a vital piece to the Tigers’ machine.
Time to punt
After Joliet Central’s coaching staff decided to bring up five sophomores to replace the four varsity starters who sat for disciplinary reasons for most of Friday’s victory at Lincoln-Way Central, coach Jeff Corcoran had to come up with a new offense — and fast. He brought up the players about 24 hours before game time.
“It was kind of a quick hybrid put together between a combination of what the sophomores run (and the varsity),” Corcoran said. “It was a quick teach on the fly with tweaks here and there.”
Corcoran gave credit to sophomore coaches Britt Charley and Mike Lutz, who helped pick the four players to bring up: Ternell Jordan, Othello French, Kenyon Woodford and Kewon Ware.
Yaklich said Joliet West 6-foot-7 senior forward Tim Smith gave an oral commitment to Illinois Valley Community College.
Yaklich also said there are “three or four” other seniors who will make their college choices later in the season.