Roll out the basketballs for the sectional semifinals at Lockport High School. Fifth-seeded Neuqua Valley is coming off its first regional title since 2015. They take on top-seeded Joliet West, who hasn’t lost in more than a month.
First quarter and Neuqua is down 5-0 quickly. They erase the goose egg by Donovan Navarro passing to Connor Davis, who knocks down the three pointer. Wildcats trail 5-3.
More Davis action as he gets free down low off a nice screen. It’s an easy bucket to take a 9-8 lead for the cats.
Still in the first quarter and Nonso Obguefi brings the crowd to life with a dunk to break the Joliet press. Neuqua takes a 13-12 lead.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Jamere Hill driving inside gets the shot to go plus a free one to retake the lead for Joliet West.
Into the second quarter and Neuqua leads 22-21. Erik Roche finds Navarro cutting backdoor who lays it in, extending Neuqua’s lead to three.
Joliet West clears the lane for Ashawn Burbridge who drives and finishes to cut the lead to one at the half – 26-25 Neuqua.
Back and forth into the third and freshman Jeremy Fears misses the floater but Jaiden Lee is there for the putback and the lead. 31-30 Tigers.
Crunch time in the fourth quarter and here come the tigers. Burbridge cleans up the missed three to extend West’s lead to 38-35.
It was a quiet night for John Poulakidas due to early foul trouble, but he got on the scoreboard here with a huge bucket to tie it up at 38.
Max Rivera threads the needle to Davis cutting to the hoop for the lay-in. Cats now down just two with under three minutes left.
But that would be their last points of the game as Joliet west finished on an 8-0 run, showing why they’re the sectional’s top seed. Skylar Crudup caps it with a breakaway layup to give the Tigers a 50-40 win. They will play the winner of East Aurora and West Aurora in the sectional final.
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