West Aurora’s Jared Crutcher is a left-handed post player. It always takes teams awhile to adjust to that. Bolingbrook knew that going in to the Class 4A Romeoville sectional final on Friday, but it didn’t matter.
Crutcher had a second and often even a third move to get by the Raiders’ long, strong and athletic defenders. He was nearly always able to find the slice of light to finish in the post. The 6-5 senior scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the Blackhawks to an 82-67 win.
“Crutcher was out of his mind,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We knew he was good but we had no idea we could do what he did tonight. We didn’t think he was capable of that. He was the difference-maker on both ends of the floor.”
Crutcher was 12-for-14 from the field and one of the misses was a long tip attempt on a rebound.
“I take pride in most post moves and my personal game,” Crutcher said. “I practice, practice, practice.”
Bolingbrook’s pressure defense has turned great teams to mush over the past few years. Time and time again the Raiders have overcome second-half deficits by turning on the defensive heat.
It looked like that was happening again in the third quarter. Bolingbrook closed on a 12-2 run to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 53-48.
The Raiders cut West Aurora’s advantage to three a few times early in the fourth quarter but could never get the lead. The Blackhawks closed the game with a 15-3 run.
“We can handle pressure, we have always been able to,” Crutcher said. “We knew we had to do that to get the win. We just kept our composure, dealt with the refs and tuned out the crowd and just listened to our coach and each other.”
All-Area guard Cam Donatlan scored 16 points and grabbed four rebounds for West Aurora. He sat the entire second quarter in foul trouble. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter.
“We just had to slow down the game a little bit,” Donatlan said. “You can’t let them catch on fire. We got someone in the middle to break down their press. The difference was making our free throws down the stretch. That killed their momentum.”
All-Area guard Tyler Cochran led Bolingbrook (22-7) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Joseph Yesufu scored 11 and Kaleb Thornton added nine points.
Junior Traevon Brown scored 13 for West Aurora (25-4) and seniod Damian Virgen added 15 points and five rebounds.
“We know we have five players all capable of scoring 20 on any given night and we look to feed each other,” Brown said. “We aren’t a selfish team, that is always the key.”
West Aurora is one of the state’s most successful programs, but this is still a statement win. It’s the first sectional title for the Blackhawks since legendary coach Gordie Kerkman retired.
“This is new to me, it feels like a statement win,” West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said. “When I was at Kaneland we lost three times in the sectional semis. [Bolingbrook] is a heck of a team. For us to be able to beat such a good team is special.”
West Aurora will face Belleville West in the ISU supersectional on Tuesday.