By Paul Johnson
When Proviso East legend Donnie Boyce took over his alma mater this season, few could have imagined the run his Pirates have put together.That journey has one more trip left in it, to the Class 4A state tournament in Peoria this weekend, after surviving a strong test from West Aurora in Tuesdays Hinsdale Central Class 4A Supersectional, 62-51.The Pirates roll into the state semifinals Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Rockford Auburn with a spotless 31-0 record.I dont think anybody, Year 1, would expect us to be 31-0, guaranteed spot at state, Boyce said. But the job is not done yet. Weve almost achieved the goal that we set at the beginning of the year. Right now, Im just so emotional.A 9-0 run in the first quarter provided the distance that the Pirates needed to keep the game Blackhawks (25-6) at bay. A three-pointer from Paris Burns started the run, followed by a jumper from Sterling Brown and two buckets from senior Keith Carter (game-high 18 points) to open a 12-3 lead.But West Aurora was never fully in the rearview mirror. A three-pointer from Blackhawks senior Juwan Starks at the end of the first quarter, followed by five quick points from Jontrel Walker to start the second, cut the lead to 19-17.We got off to a good start, Boyce said. They made some adjustments. We came out a little flat in the second quarter. I think they thought they won the game in the first quarter. But I thought our guys did a good job of taking their punches and we came back with three or four and we were eventually able to win the game.The Blackhawks were unable to capitalize on Browns foul trouble and the Pirates sluggish play in the second, however, going only 2 of 10 from the field with five turnovers in the quarter, heading into the half down, 29-21.That proved to be enough of a margin for the Pirates to survive. West Aurora never got the lead lower than six points, but Proviso East never led by more than 13 points.They didnt go away, Carter said. We had a good first quarter and they kind of got back in it. Our coach told us not to worry about it, everybody makes runs. We just had to make another run.Paris Lee scored 13 to go with five steals for the Pirates. Brown and Burns each scored nine. Walker scored 12 for West Aurora.Starks went for 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss for West, becoming the schools all-time leading scorer in the process. His rebound putback with 1:35 left in the second quarter helped him surpass Billy Taylors mark, set from 1987-91. The new record now stands at 1,627 points.We didnt capitalize on their mistakes, Starks said. We were still in the game, but not really. It was real tough. Im real proud of my team.
By Paul Johnson