Bolingbrook senior Prentiss Nixon spent some serious time in the steam room Thursday night, desperately trying to clear up a cold that had him feeling lethargic all week. He knew it was no condition to be in for Friday’s Class 4A Romeoville regional final game against Joliet Central.
The steam room paid off. Nixon said he felt a bit better as he poured in 18 points in Bolingbrook’s 48-42 overtime win.
The Raiders and Steelmen know each other well. The Southwest Suburban Blue conference foes split two regular season games. The familiarity tends to lead to some unattractive basketball.
“They know what we can do and it just leaves it down to who is hustling the most,” said Nixon.
Joliet Central (15-13) completely out-hustled Bolingbrook (21-6) for three and a half quarters, but Nixon, a Colorado State recruit, fired himself up enough to tie the game in the fourth quarter and then Bolingbrook senior Dimitri Akenten stepped into the spotlight.
Bolingbrook scored six total points in the second quarter and seven in the third. So Akenten’s seven points in 72 second of overtime felt like a titanic burst of offense. His bucket with 1:38 left in overtime tied the game. Then he grabbed a rebound and put it back for a score and was fouled on the play. He missed the free throw, but grabbed the rebound, scored and was fouled again. Akenten made the free throw to make it 47-42 with 22 seconds to play. Game over.
“I’m not a scorer or a shooter,” said Akenten. “I just rebound. That’s what I pride myself on and I tried to go up strong with those at the end of the game.”
Akenten scored 13 and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Raiders. Thomas added six points and 6-9 Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit Julian Torres added six points and one rebound.
“It’s really hard to guard (Joliet Central),” said Nixon. “They don’t have a go-to guy or any regular look on offense. The shot can come from anywhere and that’s difficult to deal with.
Junior Taquan Sims came off the bench to lead the Steelmen with 16 points and five rebounds. Malik Fuller added eight points and nine rebounds and Kenyon Woodfork scored seven.
“They are a hard matchup for us for whatever reason,” said Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost. “We didn’t shoot well tonight and that along with how tough the play us made it a rough one. But it’s March, it doesn’t matter if you win by one point or by 20. Just win.”
The Raiders will host Plainfield East, which knocked off rival Plainfield North 56-44, in the sectional semifinals on Tuesday.