Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore was asked Monday morning what impressed him most about junior forward Zion Griffin.
Was it the way he sank six straight shots en route to a game-high 19 points and 7 rebounds? Or was it how he blocked three shots in spectacular fashion, like he was spiking a volleyball?
"The most impressive thing is that's what we've seen pretty much every game so far this season," Moore said. "He's been able to do this night in, night out.
"He's a great athlete that's still learning how to play basketball and he gets better and better every game. He was turning and facing today, reading the defense. That's something he couldn't even do a week ago."
Griffin's two-way play keyed Hinsdale South's 51-48 victory over Waubonsie Valley in the opening round of York's Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
Griffin scored 10 points during the second quarter to keep the Hornets (6-3) from getting blown out. Waubonsie Valley scored 27 points in that quarter to take a 37-28 lead at halftime.
Griffin sank back-to-back hoops early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 43-43. But it was Hinsdale South's defense that made the difference, allowing only 11 points after halftime.
"On the defensive side I'm the shot blocker," Griffin said. "On the offensive side, if I'm open, Coach tells me to shoot. But I think my role on the team is to just energize the team, pump my teammates up."
Griffin did just that with a speech in the locker room.
"In the first half we let them shoot 14 free throws," Griffin said. "I was telling my team at halftime that we've got to stay on the ground and just wall up. In the second half they only (made) 3 free throws."
In fact the Warriors (5-5) didn't make much of anything in the second half, shooting 3 for 19 from the floor and 4 for 8 from the line. Eric Cannon, who had a team-high 13 points, scored 4 of Waubonsie's points in the final nine seconds, including a driving layup with 1.1 seconds left when the Warriors needed a 3-pointer to tie.
"(That was) probably one of the worst halves of basketball I've been involved with in a long time," Waubonsie Valley coach Jason Mead said. "We've had a bunch of fourth-quarter leads that we've blown because we don't do what we're supposed to. We don't listen and we don't follow directions."
Brian Philips and Luke Gregorio each scored 10 points for the Warriors but combined for only 3 after halftime.
Nick Perry and Karol Lipiszko, whose 3-pointer with 4:18 left put the Hornets ahead to stay, both had 9 points for the Hornets.
"We hit some big shots," Moore said. "That was the impressive thing for me today because we were telling them things to do as the game was going on and they were trying to make those adjustments. That's not always easy to do right after Christmas."