Dunnigan, JT West Overpower JT Central
Joliet West 60, Joliet Central 49: Senior guard Morris Dunnigan scored 32 points as the Tigers roared in front of more than 2,000 fans in the field house at Joliet West.
The Skinny: Joliet West’s Morris Dunnigan blew out a pair of sneakers on a dunk over Curie’s 6-9 Cliff Alexander at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Dunnigan didn’t like the fit of his replacement shoes—he said they were too tight—in the first half of West’s 60-49 victory over cross-town rival Joliet Central on Friday night.
So, he changed sneakers at halftime. Then, Dunnigan exploded for 25 of his game-high 32 points in the second half as he put on a show in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 in the field house at Joliet West. He also adjusted to JT Central’s defensive switches—the Steelmen tried to stop him with Jonah Coble, Edward McElrath, Jailen Jones and Jarvis Northington.
Was it the shoes?
“Oh, no, it’s not the shoes,” Dunnigan said. “It’s time in the gym.”
“We’ve got a size-12 on order from East Bay,” Joliet West coach Luke Yaklich said. “He blew out the right side of his right shoe, I think, on the dunk against Alexander. He must have moved a little too fast for him. His new shoes will be in on Monday.
“He just told me about it this morning. So, we got them ordered. He’ll be back in our team shoes Monday. I probably should have sat him out, huh?”
Yaklich was able to smile after the Tigers led from start-to-finish and extended their record to 5-0 over the Steelmen since JT split back to two programs 2½ years ago.
Patch’s MVP: Morris Dunnigan, 6-2, senior, guard, Joliet West. He made 10-of-14 shots and scored a game-high 32 points. He dazzled inside, outside and at the free throw line. He hit 11-of-13 free throws. He grabbed 10 rebounds. And he limited Joliet Central’s leading scorer, Jonah Coble, to five points on 1-of-14 shooting.
Key Moment: Dunnigan went on a 6-0 scoring spree in the third quarter to help JT West push its lead to 35-26. He capped the run with a steal and dunk.
Joliet Central Leaders: Jarvis Northington (10 points, 6 rebounds), Jalen Heath (15 points, 2 three-pointers, including one from three-quarters court to end the third quarter), Jailen Jones (8 points, 7 rebounds).
Joliet West Leaders: Morris Dunnigan (32 points, 10 rebounds), Brandon McCullum (12 points, 11 rebounds), Carl Terrell (5 points), Ryan Modiest (6 points, 2 three-pointers).
Quotable I: “Well, at the time, when Brian (Koehne) put Jarvis (Northington) on Morris (Dunnigan), he was playing well, playing hard,” Joliet Central coach Jeff Corcoran said. “He was trying to use some of his strength and his athleticism, with his long reach, trying to slow him down. He’s definitely a good player. We’ve watched him do this for four years. You can’t put him on the line. He’s stronger than our guards.”
Quotable II: “I liked our half-court defense, which is what we worked on all week in practice,” JT West coach Luke Yaklich said. “I think it’s a credit to Coble and Heath. Our game plan was to limit their touches and make everything difficult for them. It’s a credit to them as basketball players, and we did a good job on them.
“We executed some set plays when we needed to. And, anytime you can lead from start-to-finish, I think you’re doing some good things.
“It was a choppy game at times because of the amount of fouls. Neither team got into a true flow. But I thought we played to our strengths, which is half-court man-to-man defense and trying to get the ball into the paint on offense.”
Team Records: Joliet West is 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the Southwest Suburban Blue. Joliet Central is 8-6 and 3-1.
What’s Next: Both teams resume play in the Southwest Suburban Blue Conference on Friday, Jan. 11. Joliet West plays host to Bolingbrook. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Lockport is at Joliet Central. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.