When Schaumburg boys basketball coach Matt Walsh was asked why sophomore guard Kyle Bolger was put on the boys varsity roster at the start of the season, the answer was simple.
"He earned it," said Walsh. "He worked very hard on his game in the offseason. He's a very tough kid."
Bolger rewarded his coach with a strong effort as the Saxons dismissed the host Evanston Wildkits 58-51 in Beardsley Gym in Tuesday night's Class 4A regional semifinal.
Bolger scored 13 points and was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line while playing strong defense.
In stopping the No. 2 seeded Wildkits, the 15th-seeded Saxons (16-11) continued their postseason magic from last year's run to a sectional final. They will take on tonight's New Trier-Foreman winner at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Evanston for a regional title.
Bolger helped the Saxons break out to a early lead by scoring 7 points in the first quarter. His three pointer with one second left gave them a 14-9 lead.
Evanston (18-11) pulled to 16-15 with 5:02 left in the first half on Clarke Rosenberg's putback. Sophomore Jimmy Lundquist came up with two back-to-back baskets, with the second on a nifty assist by Kurt Kempema. Bolger followed with a hoop for a 22-15 lead and the Saxons went to halftime up 24-17.
A 3-pointer by Lundquist (12 points, 5 rebounds), which was followed by a basket and 2 free throws by Javon McDonald (16 points, 6 rebounds), swelled the lead to 31-17.
The Wildkits then caught fire behind standout James Farr (17 points,10 rebounds) and four-year point guard Garrett Jones.
Jones (18 points) started with a basket and Farr scored the next four baskets before Jones' 2 free throws. That pulled Evanston to 32-29 with 2:30 left in the third.
Bolger stopped the bleeding with a runner in the lane, which led to a 7-0 Saxons' run to finish the quarter ahead 39-29.
"We knew that they would make a run at us sometime," said Walsh. "The team has been in a lot of these types of situations all season. When we needed to we got the stops and the rebounds."
The Saxons never let the Wildkits get any closer than the final score.
Schaumburg hit 11-of-14 free throws down the stretch and 21-of-28 for the game.
"When coach told me at the beginning of the year I was really happy," said Bolger. "I worked hard during the summer. I like to hustle after the ball and get those floor burns.
"Tonight I got open early because everyone on offense kept moving and getting position. We just work real well together as a team. We had a tough schedule this year and that's helped."
"The thing about Kyle is that he cares about his team and that is obvious," said Walsh. "He's a sophomore and he's still learning just like (Jimmy) Lundquist.
"Tomorrow in practice we realize that come Friday we'll have to play hard again."