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Glenbard North overcame a strong start by West Chicago to win 51-48 in the Class 4A Leyden boys basketball regional semifinals on Tuesday in Franklin Park.
Jeremiah Fleming and Kendall Holbert each scored 12 points for the Panthers. John Konchar had 22 in a losing effort for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats jumped out to an 11-0 lead before the Panthers could get their bearings and had a 15-5 lead after one quarter.
"We needed to settle down and just play basketball," said Panthers coach Joe Larson. "I thought defensively we were very slow. Give West Chicago credit, they came out ready to go and ready to play. They executed their offense really well."
The Panthers (21-5) came back and cut into the Wildcats' lead. They took over the second quarter 14-12 to take a 27-19 lead into the half, despite Konchar having scored 13 points.
Coming out in the second half, the Panthers found their range. Fleming potted two consecutive 3s. Justin Jackson and Eric Jones each scored a basket to tie the game 31-31 with three minutes left in the third quarter. From that point on it was all Glenbard North.
"Starting the game off, I couldn't hit a single 3," Fleming said. "I don't know how many airballs I shot. When we got control, we came back and got the win."
With the game tied 40-40, Holbert hit a 3-point basket to put the Panthers in the lead and that was the game.
"West Chicago played really well, they had us on our heels early," Larson said. "But I thought we responded really well with some adversity there. It's the playoffs and you got to respond when your number's called. I thought we made some big shots down the stretch and got a lot of big stops defensively, which was the biggest part of the ballgame in the second half."
Konchar and Mikey Bibbs, who had 18 points, tried to bring the Wildcats (17-10) back but couldn't solve the Panthers defense.
"I thought Kendall Holbert did an outstanding job on (Konchar)," Larson said. "He can score a lot more than that. In the second half he really did a good job."
Wildcats coach Bill Recchia summed up the game, giving credit to the Panthers.
"They made their shots and we didn't make our shots," Recchia said. "That's the turning point of the game. That's a good basketball team that we played. They put pressure on us and we had a couple of turnovers. It was frustrating."
The Panthers move on to play Lake Park in the regional final on Friday in Franklin Park.