KEWANEE — It looked like a blowout, but turned into a barnburner.
Behind 25 points from Donovan Oliver and some clutch free-throw shooting late, Kewanee held off Hall 69-65 in a feisty Brockman Gym Friday night.
The boiler wasn’t functioning at Hall High School, so the game was shifted to Kewanee’s home court. That seemed to suit the host Boilers just fine as they started the game with seven points in just 27 seconds to stun the Red Devils.
Hall coach Mike Filippini burned a timeout to halt Kewanee’s torrid start, and put five new Red Devils in the game.
The Boilers built on the early advantage as Oliver scored nine points and Kentrel Welcome added six off the bench to double up the Red Devils 26-13 at the quarter.
“After our start, I thought we had a chance to extend the lead but we just kept trading baskets with them and let them stay in the game,” said Kewanee coach Steve Salisbury.
Hall started chipping away in the second quarter, trimming the deficit to 40-33 at the half. The Red Devils grabbed their first lead of the night, 48-46, on a bucket by Miguel Villarreal with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Kewanee closed the quarter with a 6-2 run to go back in front 52-50 heading into the final eight minutes.
Hall regained the lead 53-52 early in the fourth quarter, but another Kewanee surge put the Boilers on top 60-55.
Down the stretch the Boilers hit 7-of-8 free throws to withstand Hall’s comeback effort.
“I was really proud that we made our free throws down the stretch because we’ve been working hard on them,” said Salisbury. “We know in big games that we have to make them. We stepped up tonight and made some huge ones.”
In addition to 25 points, Oliver pulled down 16 rebounds. He also had a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks — a breakaway jam in the first quarter and another off an alley-oop from John Moraski in the second quarter.
Villarreal led the Red Devils with 17 points, followed by Collin Aimone with 14. Hall falls to 13-8 and 4-3 in conference.
Dalton Nuding added 16 points for the Boilers, who move to 14-4 and 5-1 in the TRAC South, and Welcome finished with 10.
• In the sophomore opener, the Red Devils slipped past Kewanee 65-59.