No. 7 Bolingbrook’s pressure wipes out No. 5 Romeoville

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Bolingbrook’s Joseph Yesufu gave an oral commitment to Drake on Sunday. Allen Cunningham / For the Sun-Times.

The word around the sold-out Romeoville gym minutes before tip off on Wednesday was that Bolingbrook guard Tyler Cochran had a chance of playing, but was far from 100 percent. The junior injured his ankle against Lockport last week.

Cochran didn’t start, but he checked in early in the first quarter and quickly became the dominant force in the game, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds as No. 7 Bolingbrook knocked off No. 5 Romeoville 84-63

“Pain medicine,” Cochran said. “Lots of it.”

Bolingbrook and Romeoville are district rivals, but it’s been 30 years since a basketball game between the two schools had this much hype and attention. The Raiders finished third in the Class 4A last season and in 2015, they are an established power. Romeoville are newcomers to the scene.

“We talk [with the Romeoville players] all the time,” Cochran said. “It was a big game, we just wanted to come out and perform against them.”

The Raiders (6-0) led 33-32 at half. The third quarter was a total nightmare for the Spartans. They completely succumbed to Bolingbrook’s full court press defense and the Raiders built a 60-49 lead. Romeoville had 26 turnovers in the game.

“[In the locker room at halftime] we talked about turning up the heat and that’s what we did in the second half,” Bolingbrook junior Joseph Yesufu said.

Yesufu had 11 points and five rebounds and senior Kaleb Thornton added 19 points. The smaller Raiders out-rebounded Romeoville 37-29.

“We did our fair share of dumb stuff too,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We didn’t play very well in the first half but we were still up one on the road against a pretty good team. That was the good news. The better news was the third quarter.”

Simeon transfer Jordan Myrick scored 11 for Bolingbrook and Plainfield South transfer Joseph Saracco, a 6-7 senior, added 10 points and six rebounds.

“[Saracco] plays very hard,” Brost said. “He’s still adjusting to the speed we play with, but he’s sure nice to have.”

Eddie Creal led Romeoville (6-1) with 16 points and five rebounds. The Spartans were living up to the preseason hype early in the season, knocking off Hillcrest and Joliet Central. They were never able to recover from Bolingbrook’s third quarter punch though.

“This is our sixth game and we’ve had five different guys lead us in scoring,” Brost said. “Our guards can come at you in waves. We wanted to bring Dontia Johnson out away from the basket and that happened.”

The strategy worked. Johnson, a 6-7 senior, had just four rebounds. He scored 11.

Bolingbrook had 21 turnovers, so the full court press wasn’t the full story of the game. The Raiders were simply more composed. Romeoville picked up technicals for hanging on the rim twice. The Spartans had a five-point lead and major momentum when it happened in the first half.

“I’m proud of our guys, proud of how we carried ourselves,” Brost said. “How we hold our boys accountable on and off the floor. No one is concerned about who is out there. They just share the ball and play.”

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