Led by Marvin Grant-Clark's game-high 17 points with two others scoring in double digits and a defense that put the clamps on a very good offense, it was no surprise after Glenbard East's 66-51 win over visiting Naperville North on Friday that talk was about overall team play and defense.
"Defense is the key. If we get our stops, the offense is going to come," Grant-Clark said. "I thought we were very unselfish."
Mike Kjeldsen followed Grant-Clark with 16 points and Tahron Harvey had 13.
Kjeldsen sank three out of his four 3-point baskets during the second quarter to help the Rams take the lead midway through the period and never give it back.
Glenbard East improved to 15-6 overall and stayed tied with West Aurora for the DuPage Valley Conference lead at 10-1.
It was the Rams' third straight win, and coach Scott Miller is pleased how his team is playing after a the recent loss to Naperville Central and a could-have-been-better performance in a victory over Glenbard North.
"I feel we have turned a corner. I feel we are moving in the right direction," he said. "It was a team effort tonight."
Miller complemented not only Grant-Clark but considered Kjeldsen's early play crucial and was happy how the Rams responded when early foul trouble came.
"Kjeldsen sparked us early. He knocked some shots down. We got into some foul rouble and I thought Greg Ludwig came in and had a nice game for us," the Glenbard East coach said.
The Huskies (17-7, 7-4) took a 16-15 with just more than five minues left until halftime on Rafee Mahmud's shot. Kjeldsen sank two unanswered 3-pointers to make it 21-16, and Naperville North called a timeout to try and cool the momentum.
Harvey responded out of the timeout with a basket to make it 23-16 and the Rams led at halftime 28-22.
"Our kids played hard. We didn't make our shots. We had open spots and didn't make them," said Huskies coach Jeff Powers. "This is the best shooting team I have ever coached here, but give credit to Glenbard East's defense."
Naperville North shot 7 of 26 in the first half and 4 of 13 during the third quarter. The Rams, who led 45-37 after 24 minutes and built a double-digit lead early in the final period, were 12 of 20 during the first half and a hot 7 of 11 during the third.
Bryan LoLordo led Naperville North with 15 points. Derek Westman had 12.
"It looks like we are out of the conference title race. We have three games left. We'll continue to play hard and use the time to get ready for the regional," Powers said.