UNION TWP. | On Wednesday tears came to the eyes and soul of Bishop Noll senior Dean Danos, when the point guard found out from doctors that his prep basketball career was over.
He fractured his foot in Tuesday's win over River Forest.
"I started crying inside when I heard," said Danos, who averaged 13.5 points and 3.2 assists for the Warriors. Danos' spark was shown when he scored 30 against Andrean last Friday.
"I told the guys to stay together, trust God and have faith," Danos said on Friday night. "I think we can still make a run."
There wasn't much running in Noll's 46-35 win over Whiting. Noll led 17-11 at halftime and the snail's pace worked in favor of the shorter-benched Oilers (13-8), who hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and got within six twice. The Warriors will take on Bowman Academy tonight, as the Eagles beat Wheeler 70-49 in the first game.
But it was too much Noll (20-3) and too much Ronnye Beamon Jr., who had a game-high 20 points.
"I felt really sorry for Dean," Beamon said. "He's a close friend. It was heart breaking, but we had to mature and move on. We had to play the hand that was dealt to us."
"Ronnye was a big deal," Noll coach Drew Trost said. "The last couple games he hasn't been thinking about everything, like where he's going to college, he's just playing and that's what we need from him."
Whiting's Gio Cruz led the Oilers with 17 points.
A little personal and team redemption was on the line in the first game. Bowman Academy and senior DeJuan Marrero were coming off a shocking upset against Morgan Township in last year's Class A sectional championship game.
The DePaul-bound Marrero had something else to play for. His mother, Yolanda Marrero, promised to get her son an iPhone if the Eagles (13-8) won the sectional championship.
"We have to win a sectional for me to get it," said Marrero, who scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in only 21 minutes of play.
Wheeler (13-9) kept any trips to the mall on hold for awhile. The Bearcats battled and pressured Bowman and hung for the first nine minutes, trailing 16-13 after one quarter.
Down by two points a couple minutes into the second quarter, Bowman went on a 13-0 run, most coming off of defensive pressure forcing turnovers. Wheeler finished the game with 13 turnovers.
"As DeJuan goes, we go," Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. "For us, defense wins games, it's no secret. If our guys stick to our defensive game plan, we usually play pretty good."
Bowman's Antonio Pitkins also scored 12 points and Michael Ford chipped in 10.
The Bearcats were led by Christian Sikoski, who had 12 points.
"The second quarter killed us," Wheeler coach Tom Johnson said of the eight minutes where Bowman outscored his team 28-12, "but I'm so proud of my guys. They were out there scrapping and fighting the entire game. From the start of this year to now, these guys have gotten better every game. I'm so proud of my seniors because they started something here."