Most high school boys basketball teams in this area face this challenge at least a couple of times a season, back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.
Glenbard South and St. Francis were no exception as the two teams gathered Saturday night on the Spartans’ home court. After a slow start in the first quarter, St. Francis (12-8) turned it on the final three periods to win 71-67 and sweep its weekend schedule. The team had prevailed over Aurora Central Catholic on Friday, 66-46.
Spartans coach Bob Ward knows full well the challenge of back-to-back games and said it was going to be even tougher against a team like the Raiders (12-10).
“We got here at noon today to prepare for them. The mental aspect of playing Saturday after playing the night before is you have to pull something out,” he said. “Both teams played hard and Glenbard South is a really good team and shows how competitive our regional will be.”
The Raiders exploded for 27 points in the first quarter on 11-of-14 shooting, including an 8-0 run that wrapped up the first quarter and continued a short time in the second period. Tyler Scott and Billy Bair each had 8 points in the first eight minutes. Alex Jeske, who led the Raiders with 16 points, had 7. Bair was dominating the boards in the first quarter with 4 rebounds and finished with 7 for the first half as the Raiders led in rebounding 20-6 at halftime.
It was a different story in the second quarter as Glenbard South scored just 13 points on cold 4-of-19 shooting which included a good chunk of missed putback attempts. Meanwhile, St. Francis shot a solid 6 of 13.
“We’ve been defending really well recently. We certainly didn’t there (the first quarter). One of our goals is single-digit quarters,” Ward said. “The start of the second quarter, we dug in and started making defensive stops. We were making consistent stops. And even in that first quarter, we had a lot of energy and were playing hard.”
Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said the Spartans’ play to close out the second quarter was key. After Jeske sank two free throws to put his team up 34-23 with 4:20 until halftime, the Spartans hit their groove offensively, finishing out the first half on a 14-6 run that included 8 unanswered points.
“(St. Francis) certainly picked up the intensity. That surge to close out the half was the spark that got them going and they were able to keep the momentum going,” Hardtke said.
Glenbard South went into the contest after losing to Metro Suburban Conference foe Riverside-Brookfield 74-53 on Friday.
The Spartans kept it up in the third quarter, starting things off with an 8-2 run for a 48-42 lead and later led by seven. The Raiders, though, trailed just 55-52 at the end of 24 minutes.
“The key to our offense is the movement of the ball. Our coach stresses to pass it quick to get it down inside or kick it out for good shots,” said St. Francis senior Kilian Brown, who finished with 21 points, just 1 point behind game-high scorer Zach Prociuk.
St. Francis led by as much 6 during the fourth quarter, but Glenbard South kept on the Spartans’ heels as Jeske fought his way through the lane for a bucket that pulled the Raiders to within 69-67. Jason Sullivan was the third Spartan to score in double digits with 18.
Bair had 14 for the Raiders with Chaun Rickette hitting for 12 and Scott 10.