WASHINGTON, ILL.— Jeremy Fears Jr.’s return to Joliet West didn’t go quite as planned, but the Tigers managed to hold on and beat St. Louis Cardinal Ritter 75-72 in overtime at the Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions.
Fears said something to a Cardinal Ritter player on the way back to the bench with 1:45 left to play and Joliet West leading 65-59. He picked up a technical foul, which fouled him out of the game.
That led to a four-point swing. Then a turnover and a goaltending call combined to get Cardinal Ritter right back in it. The Lions had a wide-open three-point attempt at the buzzer in regulation but it didn’t fall.
Highly-regarded sophomore Jeremiah Fears, Jeremy’s younger brother, left with what appeared to be a twisted ankle with two minutes left in overtime. Matthew Moore, Joliet West’s other Division I senior, had fouled out in regulation.
But the Tigers managed to hang on and win in overtime thanks to juniors Justus McNair and Drew King and senior Jayden Martin.
“It’s not funny, but I think after tonight, counting Jeremy’s freshman year here and Jeremiah’s freshman year last year that’s 14 technicals between the two of them,” Joliet West coach Jeremy Kreiger said. “Their competitive spirits get going so high. They don’t know how to turn that off yet. And that’s got to be me coaching them through those moments.
“I’ll tell them that as star players, everyone’s eyes are always on them. While you may not feel like it is your fault, you need to be emotionally in control at all times because you are our heart and we go as you go.”
Fears Jr., a Michigan State recruit, finished with 17 points, five rebounds, three blocks and four assists. Jeremiah Fears scored 17. McNair scored 18 and Martin added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“What I love is we pulled out a win in overtime without our two Division I players on the floor for nine and a half minutes,” Kreiger said. “While we do have things we need to improve, I think it’s better to speak about how those guys willed us to a victory.”
King, who is 6-9, has improved tremendously since last season. His emergence will give the Tigers more rim protectors this season than most expected.
“What he’s done to committing to the game of basketball and the weight room has done wonders for us,” Kreiger said. “That’s changed our team for the better.”
Moline lost to Wisconsin Lutheran, a team from Milwaukee, 90-80 in the first game I saw in Washington. Wisconsin Lutheran shot the heck out of the ball, draining 10 threes in the first half and led by 19 at the break.
The Maroons have two Iowa recruits, guard Brock Harding and Bradley-Bourbonnais transfer Owen Freeman. Harding scored 34 and Freeman added 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Tuesday’s top games
Metamora 87, Yorkville Christian 41: Another game in Washington. I didn’t see this one, the plan is to catch Metamora tomorrow evening. Ethan Kizer scored 17 and Matthew Zobrist had 15. David Douglas Jr. led the Mustangs with 23.
Hyde Park 69, North Lawndale 62: Damarion Morris scored 23 and Cam Williford had a monster game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Another close lost to start the season for the Phoenix.
Thornton 57, Manual 51: Vincent Rainey starts this season with a 33-point effort. That’s a career high for the sharpshooting guard.
Young 85, Rockford East 43: The Dolphins rebound quickly from the loss to Kenwood. Another big game for Daniel Johnson with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Antonio Munoz added 12 points and six rebounds.
St. Ignatius 57, Taft 54: Sophomore Phoenix Gill started for the first time and led the Wolfpack with 18 points. Richard Barron had 15 and Jackson Kotecki added 12. Good early sign for Taft to play a ranked team this close. Frank Paszkowski led the Eagles with 18 points.
Evanston 65, Libertyville 55: The Wildkits trailed at halftime but pulled off the win. Senior Malachi Barrett led the way with 16 and Prince Adams added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Marian Catholic 62, Rich 46: Quentin Jones led the way with 17 and James Bullock added 14. Samar Bures led the Raptors with 21.
Hillcrest 80, TF South 68: Guard Bryce Tillery scored 18 and big man Darrion Baker added 15. Romelo Ali had 25 for TF South.
Bloom 63, Lincoln-Way Central 52: A balanced scoring attack for the Blazing Trojans. Jayden Watson scored 16, Raeshom Harris 13 and Jordan Brown added 12 points.
Lake Forest 62, Bulls Prep 38: Clemson recruit Asa Thomas dropped 32 points and had eight rebounds.
Prospect 69, Antioch 41: Ben Schneider led the Knights with 22 points and Alex Georgakas scored 13.
Proviso East 92, East Aurora 51: Two games into the season and I’m already wondering if the Pirates should have been in the preseason Super 25. Bryce Coleman has opened with a pair of big games. He had 18 points and 14 rebounds against the Tomcats. Guard Jaloni Johnson scored 18 and had seven steals.
Curie 71, Hinsdale South 58: The Chikasi Ofoma/Jeremy Harrington duo did it again. Ofoma had 13, Harrington 12 and eight rebounds.
Mount Carmel 84, Kennedy 37: DeAndre Craig scored 17 to hit 1,000 points in his career.
Beecher 59, Peotone 39: I was impressed with Adyn McGinley when I made my trip down to Beecher last season and he’s starting the season really well. He had 24 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Oak Lawn 74, Lincoln-Way West 50: Hearing good things about the Spartans early. Ayham Salah nearly posted a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Xavier Sulaiman added 21 points.
Lindblom 64, Nazareth 62: Junior Je’Shawn Stevenson exploded for 32 points and five rebounds. He was a perfect 12 of 12 from the free-throw line. Quentin McCoy added 15 points and five rebounds.