Titans close out regular season strong, look to carry momentum to postseason

Jason Painter throws down the ball for a dunk against Harlem. Painter scored 8 points for the Titans in their regular season finale.

By Matt Nestor

Sports Columnist

The Boylan Titans have big ambitions for the IHSA Class 4A tournament. But before they could get there, they had the NIC-10 regular season to finish up.

After taking their first loss of the season the previous week at home to Freeport, the Titans still seemed sluggish for almost three quarters against Harlem.

With 0.7 left on the clock in the third quarter and the game tied at 46, it looked as though Boylan was going to enter the fourth quarter tied. But junior guard Chris Miller hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the Titans continued the momentum into the fourth quarter, disposing of the Huskies 77-57 in the regular-season finale.

“Tuesday for us is a brand-new season, our record starts over at zero,” Boylan coach Steve Goers said. “But we had to come over here and take care of business. We weren’t so much worried about our opposition as we were worried about getting our moment back after we kicked ourselves in the shin (against Freeport).”

For three quarters, the Huskies seemed poised for an upset. Senior Bo Andrews and junior Joseph Wagner torched the Titans’ defense at will with Andrews raining in four threes and Wagner getting to the basket at will.

But Andrews’ 23 points and Wagner’s 16 points could only hold off the tremendous size advantage the Titans held down low. The Titans pounded the ball down low, with Nick Bauch putting in 20 points, while Armani Flannigan and Jason Painter combined for 17 points.

“The kids worked out and have worked hard,” Goers said. “We knew we could go inside, and we did go inside. And we should have gone inside more often in the third quarter. I’m proud of our kids.”

The big game on the last night was Jefferson at Hononegah. The Indians outscored the J-Hawks 12-3 in the third quarter, and thanks to 21 points from Mario Donaldson and 17 from Stanley Moore, Hononegah cruised to a 57-40 victory.

Hononegah’s win, coupled with Auburn’s win, left those two teams tied for second place in the conference, with Jefferson in fourth. Auburn got 19 points from J.D. Danforth and another 15 points from Fred Van Vleet to knock off the Guilford Vikings 71-68.

Freeport continued their strong finish, picking up a 65-39 victory over Belvidere, a win that pushed them past Harlem and Guilford into fifth place in the conference.

With the regular season over, the season has moved into regionals, with NIC-10 teams participating at Harlem and East in respective regionals. Jefferson is playing in Crystal Lake South for their regional games.

Harlem, Guilford, Boylan, Auburn and Hononegah are all competing in the Harlem Regional in Class 4A, as is Jefferson at Crystal Lake. Belvidere, East, Belvidere North and Freeport will compete at East in Class 3A.

The Titans are the top seed in their regional and will host the sectional should they win their regional. But Goers knows the Titans will have to do more than show up if they want to reach the rest of their goals for the season.

“I hope all our juniors and sophomores understand the gravity of the situation of one more game,” he said. “We really have to put our nose to the grindstone and work hard so our seniors can have seven more games.”

Share your thoughts with Matt Nestor via e-mail at sportsnest@gmail.com.

From the Mar. 3-9, 2010 issue

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