Boyce, Wil­liams have Pi­rates on roll

Chicago Sun-Times - - HIGHSCHOOL BASKETBALL - MICHAEL O’BRIEN Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ michael­so­brien. Email: mo­brien@ sun­times. com

Don­nie Boyce wasn’t des­per­ate to come back to Pro­viso East. He spent this sea­son coach­ing in the NBA D- League with the Texas Leg­ends.

The for­mer NBA player tem­po­rar­ily lost his po­si­tion as head coach last sea­son be­cause of an in­ci­dent that oc­curred dur­ing his day job as a se­cu­rity guard at Pro­viso East. He suc­cess­fully ap­pealed the de­ci­sion and was re­in­stated a week ago.

“When I won the ap­peal, [ Pro­viso East se­nior An­to­nio-Wil­liams] was one of the first to call me,” Boyce said. “I had a good sit­u­a­tion go­ing on, but this is home, so I de­cided to con­tinue some­thing that should have never been stopped.”

Wil­liams be­came aca­dem­i­cally el­i­gi­ble at the Pro­viso West Hol­i­day Tour­na­ment in De­cem­ber. He has been a rev­e­la­tion since then and has bloomed into one of this sea­son’s break­out stars.

“It was tough to keep up with him be­cause I was trav­el­ing, but he would text me through­out the sea­son,” Boyce said. “I love his de­sire. He is a kid that will never give up. An­to­nio was one of the rea­sons that I de­cided to come back.”

The Pi­rates are play­ing well. They knocked off River­side-Brook­field, a pre­sea­son con­tender for the Class 4A state ti­tle, on Fri­day in the re­gional fi­nals. But they will be un­der­dogs the rest of the way. Their big­gest test of the sea­son comes Wed­nes­day against Ken­wood, a tal­ented team that lost to Simeon in the city ti­tle game.

If Pro­viso East can get by the Bron­cos, ei­ther Young or Curie would be wait­ing in the River­side-Brook­field sec­tional fi­nal Fri­day.

“Coach Don­nie is push­ing ev­ery­one to play harder,” Wil­liams said. “He’s given us an ex­tra boost.”

Here’s a look at some of the top sec­tional semi­fi­nal games this week:

Thorn­ton vs. Crete- Monee, Wed­nes­day at Bloom: Ev­ery­one ex­pected the Wild­cats to be here, but few ex­pected Crete- Monee to knock off Home­wood- Floss­moor. The War­riors have the tal­ent to pull the up­set in this one as well. Dwayne Rose Jr. hasn’t quite fig­ured out how to be a con­sis­tent threat but he’s ca­pa­ble of tak­ing over a game for stretches. Jor­dan Matthews is a rock- solid se­nior and Vic­tor Curry was huge in the win over the Vik­ings.

Joliet Cen­tral vs. Joliet West, Wed­nes­day at Lock­port: The district ri­vals meet for a third time. West has won both, but they’ve been close. Gun­shots were fired in the Joliet-West park­ing lot af­ter the game last week. It’s a heated ri­valry, but hope­fully the dan­ger­ous ex­tracur­ric­u­lars will be toned down since the game is in Lock­port.

Deer­field vs. Steven­son, Wed­nes­day at Glen­brook South: The War­riors could be the area’s best when it comes to team- first play ( Benet is a close se­cond). They move the ball well and se­nior Jor­dan Baum pro­vides the lit­tle ex­tra spark that makes them a spe­cial team. Steven­son has played very well the past month. Justin Smith is an elite ath­lete and Ryjui Aoki has ma­tured into a pol­ished scorer.

Simeon vs. Mar­ian Catholic, Tues­day at Bloom: The most shock­ing thing that hap­pened Fri­day was Brother Rice lead­ing the Wolver­ines at half­time. Simeon dom­i­nated the se­cond half, but a slow start in a play­off game is not the best sign. The Spar­tans will have a size ad­van­tage in the post. Ex­pect the game to hinge on the Spar­tans’ young guards, Chase Adams and Bran­don Hurt. They need to take care of the ball, feed the post and be con­stant threats to score.

| WORSOM ROBIN­SON/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES

Don­nie Boyce’s re­in­state­ment as head coach at Pro­viso East came just in time for the play­offs.

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