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Boys Basketball: Joliet Central topples Leo

Joliet Central's Jerry Gillespie (3) works defense Leo's Christopher Winters (22) December 26 2013. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Joliet Central's Jerry Gillespie (3) works on the defense of Leo's Christopher Winters (22), December 26, 2013. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 26, 2013 10:34PM



Joliet Central coach Jeff Corcoran didn’t care about match-up or what route his team would have to take.

Having lost in the first round of the McDipper the previous three years, the Steelmen were dead-set on advancing in the winners bracket.

“No matter who the opponent was, even before the draw was released, we wanted to play on the winners’ side,” Corcoran said. “Regardless of if we’re playing in the finals or the fifth-place game, it didn’t matter. We wanted to go right, not left (on the bracket).”

Surviving a 17-5 first half run Thursday vs. Leo, Joliet Central did go right, winning 58-44 in opening-round play at the McDipper Tournament at Rich South.

Jonah Coble finished with 21 points for Central (8-2), with Anthony Dyson adding 12 points and 14 rebounds. Martez Hampton (15 points) and Darius Branch (9 points) led Leo (4-6).

The Lions were missing several players, including two starters, as well as coach Noah Cannon, in the wake of Friday’s brawl-canceled game vs Seton.

“Missing a couple of guys who play a lot of us, it was tough,” Leo assistant William Hawkins said. “It was a lack of execution (Thursday). We had some guys in there who probably shouldn’t have been. It was just tough.”

With both teams rattling off impressive early runs in the first quarter — 9-1 for Joliet Central, 17-5 for Leo — it was Joliet Central that seized control in the second. Down 18-14 early in the quarter, Coble scored inside on a drive and then hit a corner three-pointer to give the Steelmen the lead at 19-18. Central would not trail again.

The senior star added an athletic hanging layup in the third to hold off a Leo charge as well as two fast-break dunks in the second half, one a left-handed flush off a steal.

“We started playing our game and getting some good looks,” Coble said. “We were just running around early on. Offensively, it’s the whole team. We all contribute.”



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