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Before the season began, Glenbard North boys basketball coach Joe Larson showed his players the tribute outside the gymnasium to the 1991 team that won the program's last DuPage Valley Conference title.
On Wednesday they earned their own place of honor.
Glenbard North claimed a hard-fought 78-69 victory over Wheaton North in Carol Stream to clinch a share of the program's first DVC title in 23 years.
"It's something we worked for all summer, all camp, this whole season," said Panthers senior Kendall Holbert, whose 19 points joined three teammates in double-digit scoring. "Those are the best wins, the ones that you have to really work for. When you get that win it feels great."
Like everything else during the DVC marathon, Wednesday wasn't easy. Wheaton North (13-12, 6-8) played spectacular ball for more than three quarters of a game featuring 11 lead changes and 12 ties.
Falcons senior Andrew Slivinski, who poured in a game-high 29 points, hit a pair of free throws to tie the game for the last time at 64-64 with 4:03 left.
Glenbard North then unleashed a 14-0 run capped by back-to-back dunks by Justin Jackson, who scored 10 points, and Chip Flanigan, who tallied 17 points.
"We played a great game for 30 minutes," said Wheaton North coach Dave Brackmann. "The last two were obviously disappointing. Just not good enough execution down the stretch, and they made some good plays. I'm really proud of our effort throughout the night."
After a sluggish first half for both sides, the final three quarters saw a flurry of scoring. Neither side led by more than 4 points until Holbert's three-point play pushed the Panthers' advantage to 54-47 late in the third quarter.
Wheaton North, however, shot right back with 7 straight points, including a Slivinski 3-pointer and a pair of baskets by Nick Jordan.
"This has been crazy," said Panthers senior Jeremiah Fleming, whose four 3-pointers helped him score 22 points. "We've had close games but we come up big."
Glenbard North, which will share the DVC title with West Aurora, knows the job isn't finished as they move on to play as the sixth seed in the Class 4A Bartlett sectional. Wheaton North is the 10th seed at Bartlett.
"I couldn't be more proud of a group of kids," said Larson, a freshman at Glenbard North in 1991. "I'm very happy with the result, but we also want to get on to the next phase."
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