West Aurora handles Bolingbrook in sectional final
Jared Crutcher had a personal stake in making sure Bolingbrook did not end the West Aurora season for the third time in four years Friday night.
"I had a poor game (Wednesday against Lincoln-Way East)," Crutcher said.
But the Fox Valley boys basketball all-area honorary captain more than made up for fouling out against the Griffins in the Blackhawks' Class 4A sectional semifinal.
Crutcher made mincemeat of the Bolingbrook interior defense in the championship game at Romeoville High School, converting 11 consecutive shots to begin the game.
West Aurora, the second seed, captured its ninth consecutive sectional-final appearance with a convincing 82-67 victory over the top-seeded Raiders.
Crutcher led all players with 26 points and 5 blocks as the Blackhawks (25-4) extended their winning streak to 17 games in earning an Illinois State University supersectional date with Belleville West, which denied Moline at Pekin, Tuesday in Normal.
Bolingbrook, third in state last year, was closed out at 22-7.
"They're the best team we have played so far this season," Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said of West Aurora. "Crutcher was out of his mind. We knew he was good, (but) I had no idea he could do what he did tonight. He was the difference-maker on both ends of the court."
"I knew I had to come out," said Crutcher, who finished 12-for-14 from the floor.
West Aurora star guard Camron Donatlan once again found himself missing significant minutes of playing time with two early fouls.
"We pick each other up," Crutcher said of the Blackhawks' 15-for-23 shooting (65 percent) in the first two quarters in snaring a 37-32 lead at halftime. "We're more than friends; we're family."
West Aurora was revived by contributions throughout its starting lineup.
Ben Young was a free throw away from becoming the fifth West Aurora starter from finishing in double figures.
Young, point guard Traevon Brown and off-guard Damian Virgen were all instrumental in the Blackhawks extending their 5-point halftime lead into a 15-point spread two-thirds into the third quarter.
Virgen and Brown finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
But Bolingbrook was not about to concede West Aurora its latest Elite Eight berth.
Behind pressure defense and brilliant perimeter shooting from Tyler Cochran, the Raiders narrowed their deficit to 5 points entering the fourth quarter.
The West Aurora lead was 65-62 with crunchtime approaching, but the frenetic Bolingbrook run came to a sudden halt as the Blackhawks finished the game by scoring 17 of the last 22 points.
Donatlan and Virgen both played with four fouls during the Blackhawks' championship-clinching run.
Donatlan scored 14 of the Blackhawks' 29 fourth-quarter points to finish with 16.
"Basketball has always been my first love," said Donatlan, who will pursue football and track at Wyoming. "Every game could be my last game."
Cochran led Bolingbrook with 18 points.
"The difference was making our free throws (11-for-14 in the fourth quarter)," Donatlan added. "That killed the (Raiders') momentum."
West Aurora has not lost a sectional-championship game since dropping the Class AA East Aurora final to Naperville North in 1998.
The Blackhawks' state-championship team started the run of sectional titles in 2000.