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Joliet West's Morris Dunnigan (23) drives to the basket in front of Joliet Central's William Autman (33). | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Morris Dunnigan says it wasn’t the shoes.
Maybe not, but nobody in Joliet Central blue was able to extinguish the fire that was lit under the Joliet West senior guard Friday night in the Tigers’ fieldhouse.
Dunnigan scored 25 of his 32 points in the second half and was primarily responsible for limiting Central’s leading scorer, Jonah Coble, to six points on 1-for-13 shooting as the Tigers roared to a 60-49 SouthWest Suburban Blue victory.
Dunnigan blew out his team shoes, so he came to Friday night’s game with two other pairs. He changed at halftime because “the first ones were a little too tight.”
What had begun as a good night suddenly became legendary before a crowd in excess of 2,000. The 6-foot-2 Dunnigan hit 7-of-9 shots and 10-of-13 free throws in his 25-point second half.
“It wasn’t the shoes, it was all the gym time,” he insisted.
West (9-4, 3-1) led wire-to-wire but never could shake the pesky Steelmen. The Tigers scored the final eight points, and the final score represented the largest lead.
Brandon McCullum chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds for West. Jalen Heath scored 15 against McCullum’s tight defense and Jarvis Northington contributed 10 for Central.
“I liked our half-court defense for the most part,” West coach Luke Yaklich said. “Credit Heath and Coble for the players they are. Our game plan was to limit their touches, and we did a good job on them.
“We ran our set plays when we needed to, and we led start to finish. Those were all good things.”
“You wouldn’t want to look at our shot chart,” Central coach Jeff Corcoran said. “We’ve got to get better shots. We can’t be changing hands at the rim like we did because we’re afraid of getting the ball blocked. We have to finish going through somebody.”
The Steelmen shot 33.3 percent on 20-of-60 and were 2-of-18 on three-pointers, including Heath’s bucket from well beyond midcourt at the third-quarter buzzer.