Boys Basketball: Thornton knocks off Bradley
By Michael O’Brien email@example.com January 31, 2014 9:40PM
Thornton's Justin Taylor swivels past Andrew Poremba of Bradley-Bourbonnais. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:38PM
Thornton’s Justin Taylor wasn’t impressed with his own play Friday at Bradley, and he didn’t want to hear any talk about Bradley’s up-and-coming young squad.
“They were first in the conference and all that,” Taylor said. “But we are Thornton. We’re Thornton and we are much better than them. I could have played better (Friday) and I think the whole team could have.”
Taylor’s size and athleticism were too much for the Boilermakers to handle. The 6-foot-6 senior scored 16 and grabbed nine boards in the Wildcats’ 77-67 victory.
And it wasn’t just Taylor. Jamani Pierce, a 6-5 senior, was another problem for the Boilermakers. He finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Bradley hung tough for the entire game, cutting Thornton’s lead to four points several times in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats shot 7-of-9 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes to seal the win.
“That was a problem for us earlier in the year,” Pierce said. “So it was good to see us be able to close it out hitting those shots.”
Thornton coach Troy Jackson knew his squad was heading into a hornet’s nest Friday. The Boilermakers had been looking toward this game for a while, figuring it was a measuring stick for just how good they were after winning 12 of their first 14 games.
“No doubt about that at all,” Jackson said. “(Bradley) has a really good team this year. I’m always worried about coming down here, even when they aren’t so good. This was a major hurdle for us.”
Sophomore Micah Bradford is the key to the Boilermakers’ young nucleus. The 5-10 point guard was poised and productive in the biggest game of his career so far, finishing with 21 points and five assists.
“Man, he reminded me of a young Tyler Ulis (of Marian Catholic),” Jackson said. “He has that kind of potential.”
Leslie Wilson was the key guard for Thornton (12-4, 6-1 SouthWest Suburban Red). He scored 16 points, 11 in the third quarter. His hot shooting in the third kept the Boilermakers (12-3, 5-2) from developing any second-half momentum.
Keondre Woods added 10 points off the bench for the Wildcats and D’Quan Applewhite finished with eight points and six boards. His four consecutive free throws in the final 40 seconds were huge.
“We needed to win some more of those 50-50 balls,” Boilermakers coach Alex Renchen said. “I’d like to see us get tougher with that. Sometimes you just have to get angry and want the ball more.”
Peter Gray came off the bench to score 17 for Bradley and Zach Hollywood had a solid all-around game with four points, nine rebounds and three blocks.