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Bolingbrook's Prentiss Nixon drives by JT West's Carl Terrell. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Twenty-eight years ago? It seemed like only yesterday.
In 1985, Bolingbrook, featuring the senior guard tandem of Trent Jackson and the late Jay Lomas, sported what probably was the best boys basketball team in school history. They reached the supersectional at Illinois State University before falling to Ed Horton-led Springfield Lanphier.
Jackson was honored at halftime of Friday night’s SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup against Joliet West as his No. 32 jersey officially was retired.
Raiders coach Rob Brost had his team courtside for the ceremony rather than in the locker room.
“We talked before the game that we wanted our guys to congratulate Trent and pay their respects,” Brost said. “He is the best ever to player here.”
Brost paused and added with a smile, “although I’ll take Ben anytime.”
Ben is Ben Moore, Bolingbrook’s 6-8 senior forward bound for SMU. The last time the teams met in conference play, on Jan. 12, Moore made a heroic last-second play to pull out a 66-65 victory. This time, he was a highlight reel unto himself while hitting his last eight shots and scoring 20 points in a 71-58 victory.
West coach Luke Yaklich described Moore as “a matchup nightmare” with the way he can take a big man off the dribble and a smaller defender down low. Brost simply said, “In my opinion, Ben is the best player in the area.”
Perhaps the Trent Jackson magic rubbed off.
“He obviously was an amazing player,” Moore said of Jackson. “I haven’t seen him play on film, but now I really want to.”
Moore made a steal and dribbled behind his back en route to the bucket for dunk. He finished the third quarter with a drive and resounding dunk over West’s 6-7 Andre Hardy. Very Jackson like.
He found open teammates around the basket, helping the Raiders to 57.1-percent shooting. And that was with two of their top six, Kendall Guyton and Josh Dillingham, out with injuries suffered in the loss at Homewood-Flossmoor a week earlier.
“The team’s intensity at the start of the game is why we won,” Moore said. “The injured guys and everyone else on the bench, the way they were supporting us, that did it.”
Moore cited junior center Shakur Triplett, who scored 12 points in a rare start, junior guard Gage Davis (seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter) and senior guard Johnathan Boatright (five points and good floor game). Those are names you normally do not see in lights, but they delivered.
“They filled in great,” Moore said. “What they did gives us confidence that we can be a deeper team.”
The Raiders (17-7, 8-4) had not been playing particularly well of late. “I played better than I have for a while,” Moore noted.
“Teams try to take Ben away so much,” Brost said. “We started a big lineup and moved Ben to the wing. If he keeps playing like this, he is hard to guard. And with his length, he does so much defensively.”
Bolingbrook is the No. 8 seed in the upcoming Bolingbrook Sectional. Yaklich called this “the worst game we have played all year, but I still believe in our guys.” Some of how the Tigers (15-7, 8-4) played, however, was the Raiders’ doing.
“They played a terrific game and deserved to win,” Yaklich said. “As the 8 seed, I wouldn’t want them anywhere close to me as the 1 seed.”