One special win for Schaumburg
Three years ago, Brandon Bolger was a Daily Herald All-Area guard helping a Schaumburg team coached by Bob Williams to a boys basketball sectional final.
On Wednesday night, Schaumburg sophomore Kyle Bolger was trying to prevent Williams' Niles West team from reaching a sectional title game.
"I knew I wanted to come out hard and win this game," Bolger said.
And Schaumburg seniors Kurt Kempema and Mark Bielanski were underclassmen in the program when Williams was still there before he headed to Niles West.
"I asked Mark about it and you could see a little tension there," Kempema said. "But we knew it was just another game."
That was debatable as Schaumburg advanced to play another game on Friday with a 56-48 victory in the venerable old gym at New Trier's East campus in Winnetka.
Schaumburg racing out to a 22-2 lead doesn't happen in just another game. Neither does Niles West rallying to within 4 points three times in the second half and twice in final 1:36.
But it was that kind of night with wild momentum swings that had two red-hot teams raising the gym's comfort and noise levels. The kind of night where experience in these kinds of matters really mattered.
Well, maybe not after watching Bolger operate like a veteran with key play after key play in the second half.
"I won't say I'm surprised," said Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh of Bolger's all-around contributions Wednesday. "It's a classic example where preparation meets opportunity. He was certainly not the only one.
"Kyle, as well as a bunch of guys, seem to have a knack for playing their best when the moment is the greatest."
Bolger has had his peaks and valleys, as most sophomores would in their first full season on varsity. He's definitely peaking right now with three straight double-figure games in the postseason.
"When we work together as a team everyone gets confident," Bolger said. "We stick together even when things aren't working."
For Bolger that meant defending some of Niles West's top scoring threats. He handled the ball in crucial situations and twice he made sweet passes to Kurt Kempema for layups. He blocked a potential layup and had a steal turn into a layup.
"I'm really confident in him," said senior guard Javon McDonald, who regularly goes against Bolger in practice. "I get to push him and he pushes me and I've taken him under my wing.
"I've been playing with him all season and I definitely have a lot of confidence in him."
But that's a feeling that extends beyond Bolger for a team that in no way resembles a 15th seed.
"I have trust in everybody on our team," Kempema said.
Which, for the second straight year, has the Saxons going longer in the postseason than most would have figured.
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