Things didn't start so well Tuesday night for Wheaton Warrenville South, but the ending was one we've seen many times already this boys basketball season.
The top-seeded Tigers (28-1) scored just 14 points in the first half and found themselves trailing Glenbard West 18-14 at halftime of the Class 4A regional semifinal at West Chicago. But a solid effort on both ends of the court over the final two quarters saw the Tigers turn things around and prevail 48-38 for their 15th consecutive win.
Guard Parker Robinson had a pair of 3s and 8 points in a big third quarter, which ended with the DuPage Valley Conference champions on top 31-29. Robinson scored all 11 of his points in the second half and was one of three Tigers to score in double figures.
"In the first half the shots weren't really falling, but coach told us to be aggressive and stay active on defense," said Robinson, who added 7 rebounds and 3 assists against the Hilltoppers. "Everyone kept grinding things out and we kept getting good looks. Everyone was doing their part and that's why we played better in the second half."
Glenbard West's Alex Pihlstrom opened the second half with a second-chance basket that gave the Hilltoppers a 20-14 lead. But that's when Robinson and his teammates started the big turnaround. First came a driving layup by the Tigers' junior, and later he sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a fastbreak basket by teammate Jake Healy as Wheaton Warrenville South took a 24-22 lead three minutes into the second half.
"I just had the mindset coming out and my teammates kept telling me to shoot it," said Robinson, who helped his team advance to Friday's regional final against either Downers Grove South or Hinsdale Central. "They kept giving me open looks and after the first one went in I kind of got in a groove. My teammates just kept encouraging me to shoot and kept setting me up, and I took it from there."
On a night when Tigers leader Dillon Durrett tallied just 2 points and fouled out late in the contest, the team's depth and unity provided a much-needed boost. Drew Healy was 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and led the team with 12 points, while Jake Healy had 11 points and 4 steals. Jake Ruggles also provided a spark off the bench with 8 second-half points.
"Parker was unbelievable," coach Mike Healy said. "He was getting it done defensively, he was making shots and his penetration helped us. He was unbelievable tonight. And 'Ruggs' coming off the bench did some things … that's all you're trying to do is survive. So, we practice tomorrow and that's what the goal was."
Glenbard West (13-15) was paced by Connor Mullins' 12 points and also got a lift from fellow senior Kevin Nelson, who connected on a trio of 3s.
"They're obviously just a very disciplined team and they're very, very patient offensively and because of that they're very efficient," Hilltoppers coach Tim Hoder said. "Their kids played great tonight, and I'm proud of the way our kids battled. You know really, I thought we definitely gave them a good game."