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Curie's Cliff Alexander dunks over Joliet West's Tim Smith. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PONTIAC, IL—Cliff Alexander is quickly becoming one of the state’s dominant basketball players.
Joliet West did a good job of containing the 6-9 junior in the second half, but Condors sophomore Josh Stamps stepped up to play the hero role, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter to lead Curie to a 62-54 win over the Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Friday.
Joliet West trailed 34-20 at the half. Ryan Modiest drained a three to open the second half and ignite a 9-0 run that got the Tigers back in the game.
Joliet West senior Dunnigan tied the score with a coast-to-coast slam over Alexander that rocked the gym. It was the highlight move of the tournament so far. Dunnigan scored 15 in the third quarter.
“Really I wasn’t even thinking of dunking on him,” Dunnigan said. “I thought he was going to block it but he didn’t even jump so I dunked it and the crowd went wild.”
Modiest made two free throws on Joliet’s next possession to give the Tigers a 43-41 lead.
But the comeback had worn out Joliet West.
“We just got tired,” Dunnigan said.
Stamps did the rest. The Curie sophomore scored 12 in the fourth quarter to put the game away. He finished with 16.
Joliet West (8-3) did an admirable job on Alexander in the second half, limiting him to eight points mostly in transition. He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, helping Curie (6-4) outrebound the Tigers 36-22.
“We did a great job shadowing him in the second half,” Joliet West coach Luke Yaklich said.
Dunnigan scored 25 points, Modiest added 12 points and Carl Terrel scored 10.
“This is just the start for us,” Dunnigan said. “There is a lot of season left.”