Downers Grove South rallies past rival

By Patrick Z. McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/15/2018 11:00 PM

The ball came to Justin Eagins in a prime spot off the top of the key with a straight look at the basket.

The smooth shooting left-hander from Downers Grove South never had a second thought. He let fly the shot from 26 feet and it never touched the rim. It provided the Mustangs' first lead of the game with 4:04 to play in the third quarter.

"The shot was there, and I had a good look and I felt very confident," Eagins said.

The 3-pointer punctuated a remarkable 17-0 run as Downers Grove South reversed an 8-point deficit and stunned the favored host Trojans 46-42 in the rivalry game Saturday night.

Eagins scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the second half. He scored 9 during the crucial third quarter run.

Downers Grove South (5-4) conquered their rival for the fourth consecutive year. The Mustangs were limited to just one field goal in the first quarter in falling behind by as many as 10 points.

Eagins and athletic slasher L. Wesley Hooker changed the dynamic of the game. Just preceding the Eagins' 3-pointer, Hooker drove hard to the rim and slammed home a dunk that earned a 3-point play.

The tone was set and the momentum was running downhill in South's favor.

Hooker finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three steals. He also made a crucial block off a turnover on Trojans' star guard Semaj Henderson with just under a minute to play and the Mustangs holding a 43-39 lead.

Hooker scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. He converted 8 of 8 at the free throw line.

"We really feed off each other and playing with energy," Eagins said. "Wes' dunk got us going, and he has been making those kind of plays the whole year."

Henderson, Trey Boston and Collin Reed scored 12 points apiece to pace the Trojans (7-2), who suffered their second consecutive loss.

"Adversity hit and we did not respond well and it cost us," Trojans' coach James Thomas said. "That was pretty much it. We handled ourselves very poorly. We talked about it, and we did not respond appropriately at either end and it cost us."

The game was emotional and physical with a combined six technical fouls called. Thomas was called for going outside the coaching box with 49.7 seconds remaining protesting Hooker's block on Henderson, maintaining it was goaltending.

Guard Timmeon Gamble added eight points for the Mustangs.

"We started off slowly but we realized even though we realized we were playing our worst game of the year, we were still in it," Hooker said. "We came together and said we had to stick with it, and we started to play defense and run our plays on offense."

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