It took awhile, but Glenbard South finally swatted Ridgewood away like a pesky fly.
"They are absolutely scrappy," Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said after his team's 75-69 victory Friday night in Glen Ellyn. "We knew that coming in. They're small but they're scrappy. That's what we've been talking about all week long."
The Ridgewood roster listed nobody taller than 6-foot-3 Nick Burt, while the Raiders played four guys taller, including the 6-6 Dusko Despot. The Rebels countered by pressing the whole game and seemingly playing with six guys on the court, even attacking the rim despite looking up to the Raiders.
"I don't know how. They're little," Glenbard South senior Joe Harks said. "But they just get into you and get into the lane, get those boards."
"Going in it's we're going to be able to control it and use our size or they're going to be able to control it and use their (lack of size) and scrappiness," Hardtke said. "Early on I thought they did a better job of setting the tone, but then we were able to work into utilizing our size a little bit."
Glenbard South (5-8, 2-2) led by 3 at halftime, but a 9-point third quarter from Despot helped the Raiders take a 10-point lead on two Dan Marshall free throws midway through the period.
That margin only seemed to make Ridgewood play harder, though the Rebels (12-3, 3-1 Metro Suburban Conference) didn't impress their coach, who thought they were a little lackadaisical.
"We didn't play well tonight, not at all," Chris Mroz said. "Glenbard South played well. I tip my hat off to them. They played hard and they beat us."
The Rebels tied the game at 60 with 4:29 to play in the fourth quarter, but Harks replied with a three-point play, and a Jon Berrospi 3-pointer built the lead to 6. Ridgewood trimmed the lead to 2 again with 1:40 left on John Caravia's two free throws, but the Raiders did well enough at the foul line to keep the lead.
"They kept coming back with those 3s, which killed us," Harks said of Ridgewood's nine 3-pointers. "Those double picks on that guy really hurt us. We just kept with it, kept our composure."
Harks kept with it all game, attacking the rim with an array of layups and finger rolls. He finished with a game-high 25 points.
"He's good, he's a load," Mroz said, comparing Harks favorably with some of the players Ridgewood saw while in Las Vegas for a holiday tournament. "He's athletic, real athletic."
"Once I hit a couple of shots, they would come up on me, and then I would be able to drive, which helped out a lot," Harks said.
Despot added 14 points and Berrospi 13.
Adrian Kuszewski led Ridgewood with 22 points, and Pete Mroz hit six 3-pointers, finishing with 20 points.
"Not only are they scrappy, they can shoot," Hardtke said.