Usually Westminster Christian boys basketball coach Bruce Firchau can be as loud as anyone in a high school gym.
But Tuesday night he was just a tad bit too quiet.
It wasn't because his No. 3 seed Warriors raced out to a 28-point halftime lead en route to a 61-22 victory over No. 6 seed Elgin Academy in a Class 1A Westminster Christian regional semifinal in Elgin.
Firchau's been so busy of late that he came down with a case of laryngitis. Luckily for the Warrors, Will Woodhouse and Dillon Rejman each poured in 14 points each to save their coach's vocal chords for one night, as the Warriors now have the daunting task of playing No. 2 seed Mooseheart tonight at 7:30 p.m. in one semifinal. Mooseheart defeated No. 7 Faith Lutheran 74-40 earlier in the evening and has beaten Westminster (17-12) by a combined-54 points in two meetings this season.
"I don't know if there will be a team in the state of Illinois in (Class) 1A who will have a tougher challenge than we will (tonight)," said Firchau, whose team will have to deal with the height of Mangisto Deng (6-7), Makur Puou (6-10) and 7-foot-1 center Akim Byang. "I thought (last night) watching them play that (Hameed Odenewu) added a lot of energy to their team. They didn't play him last time we played them. That'll be a plus having him out there."
During their matchup on February 9, a Mooseheart 22-point win, Westminster trailed by 9 after three quarters but although the Warriors didn't shoot well that night, Firchau liked the fact they played tougher the second time around and shooting will be key to topple the Red Ramblers.
"I think that the thing we have to do is take care of the basketball and we have to run offenses and take smart shots. We have to find the shooting windows out there," said Firchau. "I expect we'll see 1-3-1 and man-to-man and I think playing them twice it gives us a feel -- and I'm sure they feel the same way -- they have a feel for us, we have a little better feel for them."
The Warriors will need Woodhouse's shooting, as the senior was 5 of 10 from the field while burying 4 from beyond the 3-point line. The senior scored all his points in the first half as he got the Warriors off on the right foot by hitting 3 of 5 from deep in the first quarter as Westminster raced out to a 19-4 lead over the Hilltoppers.
"We were just running our plays, running them like we know we can," Woodhouse said. "Getting good shots, that's what was working for us."
Westminster was 9 for 25 from deep while shooting a 43 percent clip on 57 shots. The Warriors outrebounded the Hilltoppers 31-19 while grabbing 13 steals off Elgin Academy's 26 turnovers. Aaron Wiewel had 5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while Robert Kleczynski added 8 points and 5 boards.
Elgin Academy was led by Vito Maglio and Zach Bohenick, who chipped in 6 points each. The Hilltoppers went 6 minutes without a field goal bridging the first and second quarter, but went through another 7-minute stretch in the third.