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H-F's #l1, Lauren Parker, keeps the ball away from Bolingbrook's #3, Amani Davis, during their game at Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, IL on Tuesday January 29, 2013. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Five minutes into Tuesday’s game against visiting Homewood-Flossmoor, No. 6 Bolingbrook was cruising along with a 17-7 lead on the third of three first-quarter three-pointers by 5-foot-9 junior Aysia Bugg.
Three minutes later, the Raiders trailed 20-17.
So what happened?
“That’s what I want to know,” Bolingbrook coach Anthony Smith said.
Bolingbrook eventually passed Homewood-Flossmoor at 27-26 on a steal and layup by Bugg with 1:15 remaining in the second quarter, then outscored the Vikings 17-1 over the final 5:52 by making 16 consecutive free throws on its way to a 63-41 victory.
The Raiders improved to 17-5 overall and 11-0 in the Southwest Suburban Blue, clinching no worse than a share of the league title. But if the Raiders have plans for late February, they cannot afford to squander early leads against good teams, Smith said.
“Starting out the season, we were bad in the first quarter,” he said. “We were tip-toeing in. Now they got a little confidence. We go in, we execute, it works, then it seems like they get a little bored. Then we got some other people who want to do their own thing.
“I tell them, that’s the difference with elite kids,” he added. “They can stay focused, they can keep doing what’s working longer. When we play as a team, we’re pretty good. We can be one of the best teams in the state. But when we go one-on-one one one…”
Foul trouble also wreaked havoc with both teams. Bugg (24 points, two steals) picked up three fouls in the first half and a fourth early in the third quarter, then had to play offense-defense the rest of the night.
“I think we got so excited (after taking a 17-7 lead),” she said. “The last time we made it a close game. We got up and planned to keep building on it. It just got away from us.”
But Bolingbrook, nursing a 46-40 lead after a three-pointer by Homewood-Flossmoor’s Sydni Johnson (24 points, six rebounds), closed out the game by making 16 consecutive free throws by five different players before missing the front end of a super bonus try with 16.4 left.
“Between every drill in practice, we shoot free throws,” Bugg said. “Today, we knocked them down.”
Kennedy Cattenhead added 16 points and seven rebounds and Amarah Coleman had eight points for Bolingbrook. Javeonna Norris added 11 points for Homewood-Flossmoor (14-9, 8-3).
“Bolingbrook shot free throws very well in the second half,” Homewood-Flossmoor coach Dana Noble said. “We sent them to the free-throw line too many times and we paid the price. But our girls competed their butts off.
“We missed some shots that had we made a couple here and there and hit a few more free throws it’s a little closer,” he added. “Clearly, the score is not indicative of the game, not indicative of the intensity both teams played with tonight. They just beat us. They got us tonight.”