Christie's 34 points lead Rolling Meadows into Tosh title game
Rolling Meadows faced an extremely tough test Thursday night in the York Jack Tosh Holiday Classic semifinals.
The Mustangs passed with flying colors, defeating Bolingbrook 76-61, but the win didn't come without some stressful moments.
Meadows led wire-to-wire, but the Raiders attack-the-basket style of play kept the Mustangs on their heels the entire game.
Senior Cameron Christie led the way for Meadows, scoring a game-high 34 points and coming up big down the stretch.
"They just made some plays in the fourth quarter between the four minute mark and the two minute mark," said Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost of Meadows. "And Cam is one of the best players in the state and he showed it tonight."
Senior forward Mark Nikolich-Wilson added 18 points for the Mustangs, Tsvet Sotirov scored 12, while senior Foster Ogbonna came up huge on the boards in the fourth quarter.
Ogbonna had 6 of his 8 rebounds in the final 8 minutes, and his superior effort helped keep the Raiders rally at bay.
Junior guard DJ Strong led the Bolingbrook attack with 11 points.
"I was proud of our effort and our execution tonight, to be honest," said Brost. "But Rolling Meadows is the best team we've played up to this point. They have all the pieces and I think they could win the state title."
Meadows (15-1) led big early, then Bolingbrook senior Mekhi Cooper led the Raiders second quarter charge.
When Cooper hit two free throws just before intermission, the Meadows lead was just 34-30.
A drive and layup by Raiders guard Josh Aniceto midway through the third saw Bolingbrook close to within 2.
"We knew they were a fast paced team coming in," said Christie. "They like to get the ball and run and they're very physical, so we had to match that."
Bolingbrook kept things close until a Nikolich-Wilson drive and score put Meadows up by 10 with 4 minutes left in the game.
Christie extended the lead with a drive and a dunk then teammate Ian Miletic, a sophomore, hit a bucket to put the Mustangs up by 14.
Strong had a late 3 for Bolingbrook to cut the deficit, but Christie sank some late free throws to seal the win.
Sotirov scored 6 of his points in the final minutes to make a big assist to the victory.
The Meadows defense held Bolingbrook to just 2-of-11 from 3-point range.
"We've been together for a long time," said Christie of his teammates, "and we believe in each other."
"We know that no matter how the game is going, we have the trust in each other that we're going to pull it out, and that's what we did tonight."