Junior Kalen Starkey usually focuses on defense, but his Glenbard West team needed offense from anywhere possible during the third quarter Friday.
Behind Starkey and sophomore Justin Pierce, the young Hilltoppers erased a 12-point halftime deficit, but Lyons Twp. had the final push to pull out a 69-56 victory in the West Suburban Silver opener in Glen Ellyn.
Glenbard West (2-4, 0-1) led 48-45 after sophomore Alex Passi's basket with 5:36 left before the Lions (3-1, 1-0) responded with a 13-0 run to pull away 58-48 with 2:38 to go.
"We have to be able to respond to that. They're going to hit shots. They're going to go on runs," Starkey said. "That's kind of how basketball is. We just have to make our runs and weather theirs.
"We're in a good conference, and we're going to be down during times of the game. Knowing we can come back and fight back is good for us going forward."
Down 29-17 at the half, the Hilltoppers had a 26-point third quarter with 11 points from Pierce, 6 from Starkey and a 3 and 4 assists by senior guard Corey Davis.
Pierce had three 3s in the period after missing all 5 first-half attempts. The Hilltoppers made 11 of 15 shots in the third quarter after going 7 for 27 in the first half and 0 for 12 from 3-point range.
"We really shot the ball poorly in the first half and I didn't think we could shoot it really any worse," Glenbard West coach Tim Hoder said. "I just told the kids to be confident and keep attacking and we're going to make some shots and get back in this thing."
A 7-0 run on a driving basket by Starkey and a 3 and an inside basket by Pierce tied the game at 38. Another Pierce 3 and reverse layup by Starkey put the Hilltoppers ahead by 3 before LT standout junior guard Harrison Niego hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 43-43 tie entering the fourth quarter.
Starkey scored a season high as fellow post player Reid Colliander missed this entire week with illness.
"I think I did a good job bringing energy. I think that's kind of what my role is on the team," Starkey said. "Defense is kind of where I feel more comfortable, but offensively if I can get to the rim like that, I feel like I can do some good things."
LT had seven 3s and survived with some slick shooting down the stretch. Reserve guard Jim Cullen sank back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by another 3 from Omarr Gilbert, to ignite the 13-0 run.
"Once we got back into it, we had a stretch of about a minute and a half where we let them back in control," Hoder said. "We had two misses, they had two makes and then we're chasing again."
LT coach Tom Sloan said he was about to replace Cullen just before his shooting spree. Davis, who came out late in the third quarter with an injured left ankle, returned just after Cullen's second 3.
"They were huge (3s) absolutely. Jimmy's a good shooter and he's streaky," Sloan said. "Pierce can shoot it and we lost him a couple of times (defensively). To our kids' credit, we bounced back in the fourth quarter."
The Lions' Chris Hester had 18 points. Niego, a Division I prospect who entered the game averaging 21 points, had 13 with two buzzer-beating 3s. Senior Max Montgomery was his primary man-to-man defender.
"I thought we guarded him well, but he's a great player, he's going to make his shots and he did that tonight," Montgomery said.
"We showed (in the second half) that we can come out, have more energy than them and really get it done defensively. To come back from a deficit like that, I think that shows a lot about our character and we can build off that. Hopefully we can start the game that way (in the future)."