Trevian Bell was the first star to emerge from Joliet West’s talented senior class. Teyvion Kirk, Elijah Ward and Tabyous Casterberry eventually joined him to form the core of the Tigers squad that proclaimed in the preseason they were gunning for a state championship.
So it was fitting that Bell stepped up and provided the winning basket to send Joliet West into the sectional finals. He grabbed Ward’s miss and put it back to give Joliet West a 64-62 victory in the Class 4A Lincoln-Way East Sectional Semifinal of Wednesday in New Lenox.
“Fortunately I was there at the right place at the right time,” Bell said. “There is nothing worse than to watch in a game like this, you want to be a part of it. I had to fight through [an ankle injury].”
Bell missed thirteen minutes of play after injuring his ankle in the first half. He checked back in during the third quarter.
“I was limited, my defensive slides were slower and I couldn’t jump as high as I wanted,” Bell said. “There’s no room for excuses at this point in the season. It’s something I had to play through.”
Both sides of Joliet were on their feet for the final two minutes of the sold-out game. The Steelmen (23-6) had a chance at the end, inbounding with four seconds to play, but fumbled the ball near half court.
Kirk led the Tigers (26-3) with 17 points and eight rebounds. He made two crucial free throws to tie the game with 28 seconds left to play. He’s had a rough time at the line in some of Joliet West’s other high-profile games this season.
“I just asked God, if it is your will please let me make these free throws,” Kirk said. “And he made a way. It was never really my form, just a mental thing.”
Bell, a Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit, finished with seven points. Junior Eddie Creal added 14 points and six boards and Mike Smith came off the bench to score 14 and grab six rebounds.
The Steelmen charged back into the game behind football star Jojo McNair. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Senior Jose Grubbs, Joliet Central’s best player, finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. He’s one of the area’s best uncommitted seniors.
Jason Bingham added 12 for the Steelmen and Marcellus Hornsby scored 10 and grabbed six rebounds, his basket gave Central a 62-60 lead with 30 seconds to play.
“There isn’t enough you can say about [Joliet Central],” Bell said. “They never go away. No matter what happens. We were up 12 late in the game and they play through everything. They work nonstop and don’t care what anyone says about them. They are a great team.”
Joliet West will play Bolingbrook in the sectional final on Friday. The Raiders won the first matchup 84-74, that game was at Bolingbrook.
“We just need to limit our mistakes this time,” Kirk said. “We know it’s going to be a great game.”Tags: Joliet Central, Joliet West