Joliet West lightning strikes down Plainfield Central in SPC East Showdown
Last updated 12/21/2019 at 10:18am
In Friday night's Southwest Prairie Conference East Division showdown between first-place Joliet West (9-1, 5-0) and the host Plainfield Central (7-3, 3-2), lightning struck the Plainfield Central gym around 8:10 p.m.
The lightning strike came in the form of Joliet West senior Jamere Hill and junior Jaiden Lee.
With the scored tied at 41-41 with five seconds remaining in the third quarter, Hill buried his second three of the game to give the Tigers a 44-41 lead after three quarters. Thirteen seconds later, Hill hit his third three pointer for a 47-41 lead with 7:47 remaining in the game.
With 7:17 left, Tiger junior Trent Howland's (13 points, six rebounds) put-back basket increased the West lead to 49-41 and 29 seconds later.
An 11-0 Tiger run in 75 seconds.
The Tigers' lightning assault continued through the fourth quarter and Joliet West, rolled to a 68-48 victory.
Hill scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists.
"We play hard for 32 minutes and we wear teams down," Hill said. "Plainfield Central is a very good team and we know all of their players. In just 75 seconds we blew the game open."
Lee scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, including seven points in just 10 seconds, in the third
"We work very, very hard in practice, each day," Lee said. "Our hard practices make our games easier for us.
I really was hitting my shots tonight."
The Tigers outscored the valiant Wildcats, who are still without their leader, senior Brandon Shoemaker, who missed his fifth game, due to illness. Shoemaker, led the Wildcats to the 2019 WJOL Thanksgiving Tournament and took home the tournament Most Valuable Player award last month.
Joliet West held a slim 13-12 lead after one quarter and led 27-24 at the half.
The Wildcats were led by the Johnson Twins, seniors Tavari (21 points, six rebounds, three steals) and Javari (16 points). Tavari scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half. Javari Johnson scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half.
With the Wildcats up 36-34 with 2:46 left in the third quarter, Lee scored seven points in 12 seconds.
Lee hit a jumper and then buried his second three pointer of the game. On the three-pointer, a technical foul was called on Plainfield Central and Lee would nail both free throws for a 41-36 Tiger lead with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Tavari Johnson would score and brother Javari, would follow with a three-pointer to tie the game at 41-41, with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
A few seconds later, lightning would strike the Plainfield Central gymnasium.
"Joliet West is a great team. Jamere Hill and Jaiden Lee, are great players" Tavari Johnson said. "I thought we were playing so well and then they knocked us out with the big run. We are improving every game without Brandon (Shoemaker). When Brandon returns we will be even better."
"We played very well, except for about four minutes of this game," Plainfield Central coach Gregg Bayer said. "Joliet West is so good and they buried us with the run at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. The Johnson Twins are our leaders on the floor. Both are multi-dimensional players, who do everything for us."
For Joliet West, who suffered through a 5-17, 2018-19 campaign, the turn-around has been amazing.
"All of our success this season goes to coach Kreiger," Hill added. "He is more than a basketball coach - he is our brother. He works us so very hard in practice. No doubt we won this game tonight back at West in our practices."
"We wear teams down by playing very hard for 32 minutes," Joliet West coach Jeremy Kreiger said. "This was the first game Jaiden (Lee) hasn't started for us this season. He was outstanding off the bench tonight. Jamere is our leader and a special player.
"As a teacher, in my classroom, I teach my students about developing relationships in life," Kreiger added. "On the basketball court, with my team, I do the same. We are a family. We are brothers."