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JCA's Harold Davis and Providence's Jay Ramadurai fight for a rebound. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Providence won the boys basketball game Tuesday night over visiting rival Joliet Catholic but may want a mulligan anyway.
“Our pregame message was, ‘Don’t give them confidence,’ ” said Celtics coach Tim Trendel, thinking ahead two weeks, when the teams will square off in the semifinals of the Class 3A Lincoln-Way West Regional. “Instead, we gave them a world of confidence.”
Senior guard Kevin Kozan and junior forward Miles Boykin accounted for the Celtics’ final 18 points, and they needed every bit to secure a 56-50 victory. In fact, Joliet Catholic had possession trailing 53-50 with less than a minute remaining but committed a turnover, and Kozan sealed it from the free throw line.
Kozan finished with 19 points and Boykin with 17 points and 9 rebounds for No. 8 Providence (13-12). Senior guard Shakar Washington scored 17 and senior forward Ryan Peter 15 for the Hilltoppers (4-23).
“We had three freshmen and a sophomore out there much of the game and were able to match them blow for blow,” Joliet Catholic coach Joe Gura said. “We are getting better and better every week with good practice habits. And these kids are motivated by this program not winning for a long time.
“We pulled off all the nuances that we needed to stay in this game. We took care of the ball (nine turnovers), knew when to pass and we helped on defense. A tip of the hat to Providence. We didn’t make it easy on them, and they did what they had to do to get the victory.”
That involved getting the ball inside, especially to the 6-foot-5 Boykin.
“They had a nice game plan and executed it,” Trendel said. “Our game plan was to get it inside, and for 3œ quarters, we didn’t do that. We have to defend, too. Kevin Kelly and George McCabe gave us some energy on the ball off the bench. If you let them (Hilltoppers) play to their tempo, they’ll be there at the end.”
Joliet Catholic led 11-10 after one quarter, trailed 25-24 at half and was down 41-36 after three quarters. Providence extended the lead to 49-41 but the Hilltoppers, who were 9-of-23 on three-pointers, had more long-range heroics left in the tank.
“They played a great game,” Boykin said. “They don’t get credit for having the great shooters they have. I came out of this game with total respect for them.”