Of late Bolingbrook had been struggling with slow starts. It took 2:11 seconds to dramatically alter its fortunes.
Guards Brodric Thomas and Prentiss Nixon combined for four consecutive 3-pointers as the Raiders opened the game with a 14-0 run and never looked back in stunning No. 13 Hillcrest 74-64 in the Big City Classic Saturday at DePaul.
Thomas was scintillating in scoring a season-high 30 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field. Even more impressive, the Raiders (8-5) experienced little letdown after Nixon suffered an ankle injury in the fourth minute of play and never returned after scoring eight quick points on 3 of 3 shooting.
“I was just looking to facilitate, create for my teammates or look for my own shot when it was there,” Thomas said. He scored 17 points and contributed four assists as the Raiders bolted to the impressive 40-27 lead at the break.
“We played with a lot of intensity on defense, and that led to our strong play on offense,” Thomas said. Six different Raiders scored in the first half. Julian Torres, a 6-8 center, added 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Raiders.
He also helped frustrate Hawks’ 6-8 star Taylor Adway (five points), who was limited to 1 of 7 shooting. “The coaches had a great defensive game plan, and we did a great job executing it,” Torres said. “The last couple of games we had been starting games very slow or sluggish, so great start was really important.”
Hillcrest (12-4) played a racehorse 100-point game with Eisenhower and never appeared in sync offensively. The team shot 33 percent (21 of 63) and missed 12 free throws. Hillcrest hurt Bolingbrook with its pressure, causing 20 turnovers en route to a 19-7 edge in points off of turnovers.
DeAngelo Isby was the only starter to reach double figures with 12 points and five rebounds. Cornelius McIntosh scored a team-best 13 points, and reserve guard David Gatlin added 10 points.
Hillcrest made its best push in the third quarter as Isby scored nine points during an 18-7 run that pulled the Hawks within 51-45. The Raiders tightened their defense and held Hillcrest scoreless for more than four minutes in expanding its lead to 14 points.
Thomas added nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two assists in a complete and dominating performance. Zach Grady added seven points off the bench. “As a team we really came prepared,” Thomas said. All eight Bolingbrook players who saw action scored.
“The coaches set a great zone and that hurt them, and we kept (Adway) off the glass.”