Glenbard West's boys basketball game Saturday night against Lyons Twp. was a defensive struggle ... until it wasn't.
The final score -- a 60-36 Hilltoppers victory in Glen Ellyn -- tells a misleading story.
It doesn't show that the Lions' 2-3 zone defense flustered the much taller Hilltoppers offensively, or that Lyons Twp. couldn't muster much offense itself in a first half that ended with Glenbard West leading 18-7.
"Not that they were happy with 7," Hilltoppers coach Tim Hoder said, "but I'm sure they were happy with us having 18 at half. They were trying to pack it in and making us beat them from the outside."
Looking at the final score, it's easy to forget that Lyons Twp. (8-10, 4-3 West Suburban Silver) scored the first 11 points of the second half -- in just 143 seconds -- to tie the game at 18. The Lions even took a brief lead at 22-21 midway through the third quarter.
"It was definitely an interesting game as far as the first half and the second half and the contrast there," Hoder said.
Glenbard West led 30-28 going into the fourth quarter.
"If you told me with six minutes left to go we'd be down 32-30 after we scored 7 points in the first half, I thought we were in a pretty good position there," Lions coach Tom Sloan said. "We just made too many unforced errors that led to opportunities for Glenbard to score. Then just like the last time we played them, once we had to go and chase, the game was over. They passed over the top of the trap."
Glenbard West gradually pulled away in the final eight minutes, forcing Lyons Twp. out of its zone and into a full-court press that the Hilltoppers beat easily. The lead hit double digits with 4:01 to play on a Vernon Harris basket that made the score 43-32. A couple of Michael Mache free throws with 1:19 left put Glenbard West up 50-34 and prompted the coaches to empty the benches.
Niketas Sorenson scored 8 points in the final minute to pad the Hilltoppers' advantage.
"We held them to 32 points for the first 26 minutes of the game, and then they scored 28 in the last six," Sloan said. "The final score really doesn't tell you how close the game was for most of the game. Glenbard is very good, and we're hoping that we get another chance at them in the sectional."
The victory was the second of the weekend for Glenbard West (13-3, 5-2), following Friday's win against Proviso West.
"To beat those two programs, that's a big weekend for us," Hoder said. "Two conference victories is huge."
The Hilltoppers hope to keep their renewed momentum going when they play a nonconference game Tuesday against Stevenson, followed by Wednesday's game at WSS leader Oak Park, a game rescheduled due to weather.
"There's no time for us to pat ourselves on the back," Hoder said. "Those are two extremely difficult opponents."