Pontiac Holiday Tournament: Joliet West’s showtime win against Lockport, Benet beats Bloom


Joliet West’s Jeremiah Fears (2) drives to the basket as the Tigers play Lockport.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

PONTIAC–Joliet West guard Jeremy Fears Jr. heard Matthew Moore behind him. “Off the backboard,” Moore said. 

Fears knew the key to the pass was not to make it too hard or too soft.

It was just right. Moore slammed the dunk home off the backboard to the delight of the crowd. 

The No. 3 Tigers beat Lockport 57-33 in the quarterfinals of the 91st Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Thursday. 

Style points don’t mean anything in the end, but Joliet West’s showtime win showed there is another team in the tournament capable of matching undefeated, top-ranked Simeon when it comes to crowd-pleasing highlights. 

Fears Jr., a Michigan State recruit, finished with 12 points and seven assists. His younger brother, sophomore Jeremiah Fears, scored 17 and 4 for 5 from three-point range. 

“The second game in the gym definitely made a difference for my shooting,” Jeremiah Fears said. “Yesterday my first couple of shots were off but I felt great today.”

Joliet West (11-2) led from start to finish and through two games has lived up to its No. 2 seed in the tournament. Senior Jayden Martin scored 12 points and junior Justus McNair added eight points. 

The Tigers were able to rest starters for long stretches in the first half, which will be important. The Pontiac semifinal and title games are on Friday.

“The goal is to go up big early so everyone can play,” Jeremy Fears Jr. said. “We got off to a hot start and kept the pressure up by playing great defense so everybody got some valuable minutes.”

Jalen Falcon led the Porters (10-4) with 13 points. Adam Labuda scored nine and Quinton Hunter added seven. 

“The more we can get guys valuable experience and meaningful minutes we can trust them down the stretch to find spot minutes at the end of quarters,” Joliet West coach Jeremy Kreiger said. 

Joliet West’s Matthew Moore dunks during the Tigers win over Lockport.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Joliet West will face No. 7 Benet in the semifinals on Friday. The Redwings beat No. 15 Bloom 49-43 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. 

The Blazing Trojans (7-3) led by six at halftime and the game was tied after three quarters. 

“We played as poorly as we have all year in the first half,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “[Bloom’s] length and athleticism really caused us problems. We played very tentatively.”

The Redwings (15-0) took control with an 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter. 

“We finally made a couple of shots and got to the rim a little bit in the fourth,” Heidkamp said.

Senior Brady Kunka led Benet with 14 points and Niko Abusara added 10 points and 12 rebounds. 

Raeshom Harris scored 14 points for Bloom.

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