Bolingrook’s Michael Osei-Bonsu is one of the few juniors that was able to emerge and established himself as a top player during last winter’s very short basketball season.
The 6-5 senior is strong, wide and surprisingly light on his feet. He’s a good athlete with a nose for rebounding and the ability to quickly and dependably finish in the post.
Perimeter defense is not something that Osei-Bonsu was expected to have in his toolbox, but it is what made the difference in the No. 8 Raiders’ 47-45 win against visiting Marian Catholic on Wednesday.
The game was tied at 43 with fewer than 30 seconds to play. The No. 15 Spartans (5-2) had the ball with the chance to take the lead and possibly win the game. Osei-Bonsu stripped the ball from a Marian Catholic guard and went the length of the floor to score and give the Raiders the lead for good.
“Coach told me to guard up on my man and pressure him and I did everything I could to get the ball back for the team for us to win,” Osei-Bonsu said. “It’s instinct. It was a risk but I had to take it.”
Osei-Bonsu scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Raiders. Mekhi Cooper, Bolingbrook’s leading scorer, was held to four points.
“Mekhi is one of the best guards in the state but tonight he didn’t score for us,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “Once again we figured out a way to win. I’m proud of our guys. If you would have told me at the beginning of the night that Mekhi has four points and we don’t make a shot outside of 19 feet I would have said you’re nuts. But we were 11 for 13 from the line and that made a difference.
Senior MJ Langit scored nine off the bench and 6-9 junior Donaven Younger added eight points, four rebounds and four blocks for the Raiders.
“I wouldn’t want [Osei-Bonsu’s perimeter defense] to be the game changer but tonight we had to do what we had to do,” Brost said. “He always goes hard and that is a difference making thing for any high school kid, when you play really, really hard.”
The game was close throughout, with neither team able to build a lead of more than three or four points.
“[Marian Catholic] was very deliberate with what they were doing,” Brost said. “I’m proud of our guys with how we kind of just grinded it out. There’s going to be games like that for us.”
Marian Catholic didn’t crack the preseason rankings but knocked off Hyde Park and Homewood-Flossmoor to open some eyes the first week of the season.
Senior Jeremiah Jones led the Spartans with 17 points and four rebounds. Senior Quentin Jones added 10 points and five rebounds. James Bullock, an intriguing 6-5 sophomore, added six points and three boards off the bench.
Bolingbrook is off to an excellent start to the season with other big wins against Thornton and St. Charles North.
“This was our first home game and we played Waubonsie Valley last night and were able to win that on the road,” Brost said. “Our kids did a really good job in a back to back situation with really no preparation other than watching a little bit of film prior to the game.”
Watch the final minute of Marian Catholic at Bolingbrook: