JOLIET – Romeoville traveled to Plainfield South to open the Southwest Suburban Conference portion of the boys basketball season on Friday night.
It wasn’t a pretty game, but Romeoville improved to 5-0 overall as it beat the Cougars, 64-49.
The Spartans also had an important part of their team back in senior Eddie Creal and he paid big dividends for his team on this night.
In a tight first half, Romeoville led, 24-17, at the half, thanks to a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Isaiah Barnes. The Cougars’ Cooper Schmid hit a basketball to cut the lead to 24-19 to begin then second half, but then it was the Eddie Creal show for the remainder of the quarter and South would never get any closer.
After scoring 12 first-half points, Creal scored 15 of his game-high 30 points in the third frame as the Spartans increased their lead to 43-29 entering the final quarter. Creal scored Romeoville’s final 13 points of the quarter in the last four minutes.
“I felt great tonight and I was anxious to get back on the floor after missing the three games in the WJOL tournament,” Creal said. “That third quarter was hard to explain, we fought as a team after struggling in the first half and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was trying to help the team get a win.”
South (1-4, 0-1) used a zone the entire game and it really seemed to bother the Spartans in the first half.
Romeoville had a 10-0 lead with 4:39 left in the first quarter but didn’t score again, as South scored the final seven points of the quarter and scored the first basketball of the second quarter to make it 10-9.
The Spartans then went on a 9-3 run to go up, 19-12, but the Cougars once again cut it to 19-17 with two minutes left in the half on a 3-pointer by Levert Shields. But Creal hit a shot and Barnes hit the 3 to end the half.
DeAndre Heckard added 15 points for the Spartans in the game.
“We struggled tonight with just about everything,” Romeoville coach Marc Howard said. “We really had a rough shooting night and we just couldn’t figure out that zone. Give South a lot of credit, they had a great plan tonight. We played well in the WJOL tournament against the zone, but tonight was just a struggle.
“It was good to have Eddie [Creal] back and he had a great third quarter which opened it up for us. We just have to get back to practice and work on the zone, because I’m sure that is what we will see a lot of going forward.”
South was led by Diamond Presniakovas with 19 points, with the majority coming in the second half. Tyrell Ross-Childs had 12 points and Dulane Hampton-Caffrey chipped in 11.
“Our kids played hard tonight and never let up,” South coach Tim Boe said. “We came into the game with a plan of mixing up our defenses, but Romeoville was struggling shooting the ball and our zone was working, so we didn’t change.
“Diamond played against some big, talented kids tonight and if he is going to play at the next level he has to be prepared for that early in the game.”
One stat that hurt the Cougars was at the free-throw line. They were only 4 of 11 in the first half and finished 9 of 20.
“We got to the line tonight and that was one of our objectives, we just didn’t make many,” Boe said. “I also think we needed a few more possessions that took time off the clock.
When Romeoville starts running, you get caught up in that style and you can’t do that. Were a young team and we are still learning.”