In the marathon that is a high school basketball season, even the best teams are sure to experience a couple of hiccups in their play along the way.
The key to ultimate success, however, is to make sure those hiccups don't turn into an epidemic. Riding a three-game losing streak entering Friday night's West Suburban Conference Gold Division visit from Willowbrook, Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore had a simple prescription for his team: Go out and dominate the boards against the smaller Warriors.
The message was received loud and clear as the Hornets posted a 16-2 edge off the glass in the first quarter (51-26 for the game), with 10 of the rebounds of the offensive variety, to set the stage for a 74-43 victory.
Heeding Moore's words most readily for the Hornets (12-6, 4-2) was Orlando Brown, who came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds, 8 offensive, on the way to a personal-best 20 points.
"They were giving us opportunities, I saw my teammates taking shots, just crashed and was able to get rebounds and put them in," said Brown, who turned his first 6 offensive boards into 12 points.
"I've been telling myself, 'I have to play him more, I have to play him more,' and started questioning myself, 'Why haven't I been playing him more?'" Moore said. "When he plays aggressively like that, he can rebound with anyone. He got that look in his eye and he was a man on a mission tonight."
The Warriors (2-15, 0-7) more than held their own in the game's first four minutes as they forced 6 Hornets turnovers, all of them steals, with 3 by Chris Poole, leading to a pair of points from four players -- Poole, Chris Villafuerte, Will Unseth and Ed Mickevicius -- and an 8-4 lead. But then Hinsdale South's height advantage began asserting itself as the offensive rebounds turned into easy buckets for Brown, and Barret Benson, or open looks that resulted into multiple 3-pointers for Laurynas Motuzis and C.J. Davis.
"After they started shooting outside shots, their bigs just pounded us inside," said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins. "We were playing OK on the initial shot, but they were just beating us to every board. We've never been beaten on the boards like that, like we were in the first half."
Leading 14-12, Hinsdale South embarked on a 15-0 run for a 29-12 advantage that grew to 39-19 at the half. Things actually got worse for Willowbrook in the third quarter as Motuzis opened the frame with a pair of 3s to set the stage for a 22-2 advantage that left the score at 61-21 after three stops.
The Warriors didn't notch their first field of the second half until Kyle Rushing's dunk with five minutes to play, while Carlos Meyers knocked down a trio of 3-pointers after that to finish with a team-high 13 points.
Afterward, Moore was confident that his team is now ready to get on another roll.
"If you look at the losing streak, it was not like we were playing bad teams, Proviso East at their place, Addison Trail, who's playing as well as anybody right now, and Quincy at Quincy, which is always tough," he said. "This was a nice performance to get us going for our game tomorrow night against Downers Grove South."