West Aurora senior Jared Crutcher dominates on both ends to beat Bolingbrook

West Aurora's Jared Crutcher (10) gets an easy two points against Bolingbrook, Friday 03-09-18. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

West Aurora’s Jared Crutcher is a left-handed post player. It always takes teams awhile to adjust to that. Bolingbrook knew that going in to the Class 4A Romeoville sectional final on Friday, but it didn’t matter.

Crutcher had a second and often even a third move to get by the Raiders’ long, strong and athletic defenders. He was nearly always able to find the slice of light to finish in the post. The 6-5 senior scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the Blackhawks to an 82-67 win.

“Crutcher was out of his mind,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We knew he was good but we had no idea we could do what he did tonight. We didn’t think he was capable of that. He was the difference-maker on both ends of the floor.”

Crutcher was 12-for-14 from the field and one of the misses was a long tip attempt on a rebound.

“I take pride in most post moves and my personal game,” Crutcher said. “I practice, practice, practice.”

Bolingbrook’s pressure defense has turned great teams to mush over the past few years. Time and time again the Raiders have overcome second-half deficits by turning on the defensive heat.

It looked like that was happening again in the third quarter. Bolingbrook closed on a 12-2 run to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 53-48.

The Raiders cut West Aurora’s advantage to three a few times early in the fourth quarter but could never get the lead. The Blackhawks closed the game with a 15-3 run.

“We can handle pressure, we have always been able to,” Crutcher said. “We knew we had to do that to get the win. We just kept our composure, dealt with the refs and tuned out the crowd and just listened to our coach and each other.”

All-Area guard Cam Donatlan scored 16 points and grabbed four rebounds for West Aurora. He sat the entire second quarter in foul trouble. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter.

“We just had to slow down the game a little bit,” Donatlan said. “You can’t let them catch on fire. We got someone in the middle to break down their press. The difference was making our free throws down the stretch. That killed their momentum.”

All-Area guard Tyler Cochran led Bolingbrook (22-7) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Joseph Yesufu scored 11 and Kaleb Thornton added nine points.

Junior Traevon Brown scored 13 for West Aurora (25-4) and seniod Damian Virgen added 15 points and five rebounds.

“We know we have five players all capable of scoring 20 on any given night and we look to feed each other,” Brown said. “We aren’t a selfish team, that is always the key.”

West Aurora is one of the state’s most successful programs, but this is still a statement win. It’s the first sectional title for the Blackhawks since legendary coach Gordie Kerkman retired.

“This is new to me, it feels like a statement win,” West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said. “When I was at Kaneland we lost three times in the sectional semis. [Bolingbrook] is a heck of a team. For us to be able to beat such a good team is special.”

West Aurora will face Belleville West in the ISU supersectional on Tuesday.

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  • Downstate Nate

    I’m really looking forward to the West Aurora/Belleville West game on Tuesday night at ISU. Liddell is a beast and will get his, but hopefully West Aurora can contain Malachi Smith and have a chance to pull the upset.

  • mikenike

    Have watched West for more seasons than I like to admit to and don’t think I’ve ever seen a player improve as much over the course of a season as Crutcher has. And very few teams even though that was always a McDougal-Kerkman specialty, their teams always improved as the season went on. This has been a fun year for Blackhawk fans. 17 in a row. Who’d a thunk it back in December? As you mentioned, back in November after the Naperville North game, I thought the one weak link in the team was in the post.

    • Leegs1

      Remember seeing Bill Small play for West against Lockport when I was a kid. He later went to Illinois.

      • mikenike

        Bill Small is the first player I remember my dad taking me to see. Then he came to my grade school when they went downstate because my teacher was the sister of one of his teammates (Larry Secor, I think). Was like meeting Oscar Robertson to a 7 year old back then.
        Thanks to Small, I became an Illinois fan, which hasn’t always been a fun ride, but won’t hold that against him. ILL were B1G conference champs the year he was a senior (and got waxed by Loyola in the tourney the year Loyola was national champs.) I’m still looking for a tape of that Loyola-Cincinnati game. Red Rush was the announcer and I hear snippets of it on retrospectives so I think there’s a whole tape out there but haven’t found it.
        It’s too bad the West – Springfield game for the ’59 IHSA title that’s on You Tube is so grainy and in such poor condition you can’t even tell who the players are. I love watching those old games and most are in a lot better shape than that one is.

        • Leegs1

          Lockport was 24-6 in ’59 and beat West at Lockport. I was in eighth grade. Cincinnati had a very good team, as I recall. Looking at belleville’s schedule, the only good team they played instate this yuear was Champaign Central, who they beat twice by one and, I think, by twelve. Sure wish they could have played again. Good luck!

  • Pirate Sleeved Jersey

    After watching him get absolutely erased by the Naperville North bigs back in Nov, great job by Crutcher improving all season and playing so well tonight. Also, great job by the WAHS guards breaking the BHS press. That was the polar opposite of a WWS v Benet game. If it were not for all the fouls in the 4Q, almost thought we’d see an under 60 min game.

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