Glenbard East's boys basketball team brought one victory into Tuesday's contest against West Chicago, which brings up something else.
It's why you play the games.
The Rams doubled their pleasure, beating the Wildcats 60-55 in the Upstate Eight Valley game in Lombard.
"A lot of people, when we come out they're like, 'Oh, it's an easy win, scratch that off the schedule.' But today we came in, we played hard," said Glenbard East freshman point guard Alijah Nelson, who made five 3-point baskets and matched Wildcats Division I recruit Tai Bibbs' 22 points.
"We went hard the whole game," Nelson said. "We haven't done that in a while and I was real proud of my team because my teammates made it happen."
When Glenbard East (2-22, 1-6) opened hot from 3-point range in a first quarter it led 15-13. If West Chicago (15-5, 2-5) felt surprise it got compounded when Nelson, sophomore Anthony Shockey and junior Austin Esterly combined for five second-quarter 3s to lead 32-24 at halftime.
Glenbard East coach Scott Miller "saw something" in practice from Esterly, who helped the Rams sink 10 of 25 3-pointers on the night.
"At practice we do a 'scout,' which I play against this (starting) team," said Esterly, with 11 points to Shockey's 10.
"I'm Tai Bibbs, the big dude out there, so I just go off as him, hit 3s and stuff," Esterly said. "So I think he saw it from there when I was hitting all my 3s. I'm just a good shooter."
Bibbs is too, obviously, but also got harassed by a revolving door of Nelson, Shockey and sophomore Jeremy Johnson.
"They really bought in at the defensive end," Miller said. "We were trying everything we could to control and stop Bibbs and he had 22. I thought we did a really good job making life tough for him. He's a great player and fortunately it worked."
Aided by senior Devonte Pascal's 12 points and 13 rebounds, West Chicago chipped at a 42-33 deficit after three quarters. The Wildcats got within 56-53 on a Bibbs drive and Jordan Wilkins' free throw with 30.3 seconds left.
Glenbard East scored the next 4 points on a free throw from senior guard Jimmy Fairbairn-Vargas, two Nelson free throws and a Johnson basket.
"We got it down to a single possession after a bucket," said West Chicago coach Bill Recchia, seeking a highlight. "There's the test for us, is how do we respond. We've got one day of practice then we head on over to West Aurora, so let's see how we respond."