In the main event of the Downers Grove North Winter Classic, Proviso East's boys basketball team definitely rose to the occasion.
No Pirates player rose higher than sophomore Sterling Brown.
The 6-foot-5 standout came through with a game-high 22 points for the short-handed Pirates as they edged Glenbard East 65-59 in Saturday's showdown.
"The coaches kept telling us that if we lose, this was going to make their season," Brown said. "So we just wanted to go out there and win and play hard."
The Pirates (12-2) showed no ill effects from playing without 6-6 center Trashaun Carrol, who missed the game after being ejected in Thursday's win over Willowbrook.
Four players hit double-figure scoring for an offense that shot 54 percent from the field. Glenbard East (14-2), coming off Friday's pivotal DuPage Valley Conference win at West Aurora, stayed close throughout the game but couldn't string together a run in the second half.
Trailing 46-40 heading to the fourth quarter, the Rams fell behind by 9 points before Johnny Hill twice brought them to within 4 points on 3-pointers. Without stops at the other end, though, Proviso East never allowed them any closer.
"I thought they were much quicker than I thought they were going to be," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller. "Sterling Brown, we knew he could shoot, I think he was part of the reason we couldn't get over the hump. It seemed like every time we were trying to get a stop he hit a jumper or a putback or something."
Proviso East held leads of 9-3 and 22-15 in the first half, but an 8-0 burst by the Rams gave them their only lead of 23-22 with two minutes left in the first half. Three-pointers by Brown and Keith Carter, who scored 11 points, extended the Pirates' advantage again.
Steve Kinney knocked down a pair of second-half 3-pointers while pitching in 10 points for the Rams. Michael Nicholas scored 12 points for Proviso East and Tino Vazquez overcame foul trouble to finish with 10 points.
"We're peaking at the right time, which is good, and we just beat a heck of a team," said Pirates coach David Chatman. "They kept coming at us, and we kept coming back. That's the sign of a good team."
Wheaton North 57, Downers Grove North 53: Jeff Schalk's bucket with 34 seconds left put the Falcons (9-7) ahead to stay at 54-53. After a Downers North (7-10) turnover, Wheaton North's Ed Norris knocked down a pair of free throws and Nick Barry added a third to pad the lead.
Barry and Richard Finley each scored 11 points for the Falcons. Schalk added 10 points.
Downers North, which trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half and trailed by 9 in the fourth quarter, was paced by a game-high 23 points from Tom Wengren. D.J. Cieniawa scored 15.
Hinsdale South 44, WW South 38: After not scoring for the first seven minutes, 30 seconds of the game, Hinsdale South (11-6) finished strong and pulled away from the Tigers (8-8) in the second half.
Phil George scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to lead the Hornets, who rallied from a 9-point first-half deficit to take the lead for good with an 8-0 run in the waning minutes of the third quarter. Hinsdale South opened its biggest lead of 10 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Kevin Bridges paced WW South with 15 points and Reilly O'Toole added 13 points.
Downers Grove South 78, Glenbard North 63: The Mustangs (14-3) rolled to victory after building a 40-20 halftime lead. Jerron Wilbut led all scorers with 22 points while Dan Jurgutis tallied 15 points and Jamall Millison and Ziggy Riauka scored 10. Anthony Keener and Josh Fleming poured in 20 apiece for Glenbard North (6-9).
Waubonsie Valley 57, Hinsdale Central 42: Tyler Edmondson's 17 points and 14 rebounds powered Waubonsie Valley (11-6) to victory. Jared Brownridge added 12 points and Jakobi Johnson scored 10 for the Warriors, who broke a 25-25 halftime tie. Tom Garvin led Hinsdale Central (4-8) with 18 points.