This week's brutally cold weather was a late Christmas gift for high school students as they saw their holiday break extended by a couple of days.
After watching his squad post a 56-36 victory over visiting Willowbrook in West Suburban Conference Gold Division action on Friday night, Downers Grove South coach Kris Olson admitted there might have been an ancillary benefit of the extended vacation for his team.
"We had Monday and Tuesday off and I believe that having some time off can help your shooting," Olson said. "That's what Jeff Hornacek, the great shooter from Lyons Township, always said, and tonight we could've thrown it up over our head and it would've gone in."
Indeed, after taking a little time to get revved up, with Willowbrook (2-11, 0-3) owning a 9-5 lead six minutes into the game, the Mustangs found their range over the second and third quarters, as they hit 6-of-11 3-pointers in that span and went on an extended 40-9 run that gave them a 45-18 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Despite the long-range pyrotechnics it was a play at the rim that may have turned the tide. Down 9-6 with 30 seconds left in the opening quarter, Olson instructed point guard Danny Spinuzza to hold for a last shot. Dribbling just left of the key as the clock approached 10 seconds, he nonchalantly lofted a lob pass that Paul Engo grabbed before slamming it down.
"That was a set play. We were waiting for the quarter to come down and we knew the play would build momentum and get us going," Spinuzza said. "It was real exciting to see him put it down."
That lit the fuse for a 24-5 Mustangs (4-7, 3-1) run that gave them 29-14 advantage with 90 seconds left in the half. Keying the spurt was Wes Dahle, who came off the bench to drain a 3-pointer and then follow it up with a four-point play, in a performance that Olson called his best of the season.
"We held them to eight points in the first quarter, but then they started the second quarter hitting their shots, got the momentum and we weren't hitting any shots to keep up," said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins.
It would get worse for the Warriors as Engo stepped out to hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the second half, which sparked a 13-0 start to the third quarter and 45-17 lead. In all, 11 Mustangs scored on the night, with Matt Zinncker contributing a nice all-around game with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Ed Michevicius counted a pair of 3-pointers among his game-high 13 points for the Warriors.