MORRISON, Ill. — When Riverdale scored the first seven points Monday night, it certainly appeared West Carroll was going to be one-and-done in the Illinois Class 2A Morrison Regional boys basketball tournament.
But, the Thunder refused to think that way.
Trailing by five, they regrouped at halftime, and proved to themselves in the third quarter that they could come back. Then in the fourth quarter, West Carroll mounted one more rally and overtook the Rams before holding on for a 41-40 victory in the first-round game. The win set up a matchup tonight with third-ranked Sterling Newman (25-2) in the semifinals.
“In the second half, the team came out and played a lot better offense, and the defense stepped up,” West Carroll’s Trevor Jones said. “We had very good team defense and took care of their posts.
“It was not the best we’ve played (this season), but it probably was the best defense. It was enough for today.”
Jones, a 6-foot-5 senior center, played a key role in the comeback. Limited to two points in the first half, he wound up as the game’s high scorer with 16.
“It could have been my last game,” he said. “I figured it was time to step up.”
Fellow senior Brandon Sturtevant also stepped up. He scored eight of his 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter in which West Carroll outscored Riverdale 18-11.
“Tonight, a huge part was communication,” Sturtevant said.
Sturtevant hit three of the biggest shots of the night.
His 3-point basket from out top pulled the Thunder (5-22) within 35-34 with 4 minutes, 27 seconds remaining. The Thunder got the ball back at the other end, and Jordan Bracero led a fast break. His layup attempt missed, but the ball went out of bounds off a Riverdale player. Bracero inbounded to Sturtevant, who was open in the right corner, and deposited another 3-pointer in the basket.