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Ralph Blakney, of Lockport, makes a move around Joliet Central's Victor Douglas in first round regional action at Lockport, Monday, February 25th, 2013 in Lockport. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
For fans of offensive basketball, the first half of the Joliet Central-Lockport game was a snooze.
Joliet Central senior guard Jalen Heath, however, felt it was only a matter of time before the Steelmen found their range.
He was right as junior guard Jonah Coble and Heath combined for 30 of their 38 points in the second half to power Joliet Central past rival Lockport 56-51 in the opening round of the Class 4A Lockport Regional on Monday.
“We knew shots were going to start falling eventually,” Heath said. “The first half was just one of those defensive games.”
Heath’s three-pointer capped a 5-0 run that gave Central (13-14) a 16-14 halftime lead. Then he hit two more treys in rapid succession early in the third quarter as the Steelmen stretched their lead to 30-18.
Lockport (8-19) battled back and got as close as four points in the closing seconds but could not quite pull off a comeback.
“It was kind of iffy playing them for a third time,” Heath said. “I guess the third time was a charm for us. They beat us last time, so we came in here with a chip on our shoulder.”
“Number 22 (Andrew Gosney) killed us inside the last time and we made some adjustments this time,” said Central coach Jeff Corcoran. “That and the adjustments coach (Brian) Koehne made in our 1-2-2 half court pressure were keys.”
The Steelmen, the No. 12 seed in the Thornton Sectional, snapped a five-game losing skid and will meet No. 5 T.F. North in Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. regional semifinal.
Gosney, a 6-foot-6 senior, managed just two points for the Porters. David Robinson scored 12 and Grover Anderson 11 for Lockport, which broke the school record for losses in a season.
Coble finished with 20 and Heath with 18 for Central, which made 14-of-20 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Hats off to Joliet Central,” Lockport coach Lawrence Thompson Jr. said. “They did a nice job mixing defenses and making us work for everything around the basket. For whatever reason, they seemed tougher than us going for the ball. With their quickness, they’re a tough match-up [and] tough to guard.”