Willowbrook's boys basketball team lost five games last season.
Just seven games into this season, the Warriors already have avenged three of them.
It's a fact not lost on the players, especially third-year starter Ethan Schuemer. The 6-foot-6 senior forward felt an extra jab of motivation during Friday's 61-53 West Suburban Gold victory over Hinsdale South in Villa Park.
Schuemer had a huge night: 20 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocked shots in an overall balanced effort for the Warriors (6-1, 2-1), who began last season 21-2.
Those first two losses came to the Hornets (7-2, 1-1).
"I knew how big of a game this was for us, losing to this team twice last year," said Schuemer, who notched his 1,000 varsity point. "Already having lost a conference game this year, we knew we really had to come out and win this game. We really fought hard, especially that second half."
Hinsdale South built its biggest lead of 8 points late in the first half, taking advantage of Willowbrook's 3-of-12 second-quarter shooting. Joe Mazzei's bucket pushed the lead to 27-20 with 6:29 left in the third, but then the Warriors took off.
They scored 16 straight points in a run that couldn't even be slowed by two Hornets timeouts. Five Willowbrook players scored during the burst -- Schuemer, Marshawn Phillips, Neil Paxton Jr., Sikander Zafar and Matas Masys.
By early in the fourth quarter, Willowbrook held a comfortable 50-35 lead on a pair of Matthew Myers free throws.
"We knew they were going to try to wreak havoc at some point in the game," said Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore. "We got going into their game too much. We are not our best team whenever we play that havoc style. They're much better at that than we are."
Robert Barnes led Hinsdale South with 19 points while Zion Griffin had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Phillips scored 12 points, Paxton had 11 points and Masys finished with 9 for the Warriors.
"We picked up our energy level, we picked up our intensity," said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins. "We got the energy and the momentum turned on our side. We started playing our type of game in the second half."
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