Batavia builds big lead, holds on against Proviso East

Batavia knew the run was coming. A 22-point third-quarter lead against Proviso East didn’t feel safe.

And sure enough, there were the Pirates, filling the passing lanes, getting hands on everything and converting those deflections into easy buckets.

Proviso East got as close as 66-60 but could get no closer. The Bulldogs steadied themselves and held on to win their own Class 4A regional, 75-65.

Nate Nazos had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the Bulldogs. Josh Kahley added 17 points and Jax Abalos 16.

The Bulldogs will play York, a 53-35 winner over Glenbard West, at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Addison-Trail.

Friday, a bucket by Kyle Porter put Batavia ahead 46-24 just after intermissions. But a 9-1 Pirates run quickly cut the lead to 47-33 and they continued to chip away.

The defense forced 11 second-half turnovers and the Pirates were able to convert often enough to make things uncomfortable for the host team. A steal and layup by Juaquin Dixon made it 66-60.

The Pirates got the ball back with a chance to get even closer, but Dixon was called for a charge. On the next possession, Jacob Aseltine sank 2 free throws — his only points of the game — and the Pirates never got closer.

“We knew they were going to apply more pressure,” Nazos said.“They weren’t going to give up. That’s just the type of team they are. But I think we stuck with it and put the pressure back on them. We hit some big shots, too, got some stops and were able to just hold the lead there at the end.”

“It’s that fine line: you’ve got a lead, you want to be patient, but you don’t want to lose the attacking mode,” said Bulldogs coach Jim Nazos.“They play so hard, so fast. You just have to keep attacking and attacking. I knew they weren’t going away. They’re too good of a team. We just had to keep attacking. It felt like the clock never moved. But credit the character of these kids for staying with it.”

Proviso’s late run was fueled by Dixon, who scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, and Michael Robinson, who scored 13 of his 17 after the break. He also pulled down 8 rebounds.

Proviso East raced to a 4-0 lead. There were 7 lead changes in the first quarter until Nate Nazos’ 3-pointer at the end of the quarter put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, 14-11. Batavia kept the momentum throughout the second quarter, closing the half on a 27-8 run to take an 18-point lead into the locker room.

It was doubly sweet for the Bulldogs to claim the regional title in front of their own fans.

“This is what we wanted since we heard we were hosting it,” Nate Nazos said while holding up the regional championship plaque. “This is all we ever wanted right here.”

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