2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/23/2018 10:42 PM

Nelson, West Chicago end drought with win vs. Glenbard South

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By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

Junior Isaac Nelson found many ways to help West Chicago succeed Tuesday.

"I definitely always try to be a well-rounded player," Nelson said. "Lots of people focus on scoring. What I can do to give us the win is all I care about," Nelson said.

By doing several things well -- and consistently -- the Wildcats earned their first victory of 2018 by beating visiting Glenbard South 67-57 in nonconference play.

West Chicago (7-12) committed just 6 turnovers, had four players in double figures and made 22 of 30 free throws. That included 14 of 19 in the fourth quarter to hold off the Raiders (8-11), who closed to 49-44 with 4:55 left.

It's the first victory since Dec. 29 for the Wildcats, who had lost seven straight, each by at least 12 points.

"It's never fun to lose. It's frustrating, but you've got to keep your head up high," Nelson said. "The past couple of games we've been doing some things right. Tonight, we just put it all together and had just a great, solid game by everybody."

Jason Gimre, the Wildcats' lone senior starter, and junior Sam Ricci each had 18 points with Gimre providing 4 of their five 3-pointers. The 6-foot-1 Nelson had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, and junior Jordan Wilkins added 10 points.

Glenbard South senior Brandon Whiteside scored 23 points with three 3s and 11 rebounds. Junior Tommy Powers had 11 points with two 3s and senior Tristan Blake and junior Tavion Keith each added 9 points.

The Wildcats led by at least three points since ending the first half with a 9-2 run for a 28-21 advantage.

"We've had some good effort previous to this. It's just nice to get that good, consistent effort again," West Chicago coach Bill Recchia said. "It doesn't surprise me at all when we have four guys in double figures. I'm not surprised what we did on the floor because this is what I expect us to do."

Glenbard South had won three straight, its first winning streak thus far. With an 11-5 foul difference in the first half, the Wildcats took 11 free throws to none for the Raiders, who had three starters with two early fouls apiece. They finished 8 of 12 from the line.

"I don't think we did much of anything well tonight," Glenbard South coach Wade Hardtke said. "We had a ton of foul trouble. They shot a ton of free throws. And we didn't execute much offensively."

Starting in man-to-man and then using 1-3-1, 2-3 and matchup zone defenses, the Wildcats held an opponent to fewer than 60 points for the fourth time in the past 15 games.

"Our defense was a lot better. We were getting our hands on the ball and Isaac was working his tail off to get boards in the paint," Gimre said.

"He's a great player all around. When we need him to score, he's able to score. Then he's always there on the boards. That's the most consistent part of his game."

Nelson also provided a key pullup jumper late in the third quarter. Glenbard South had just closed to 36-33 with baskets by Keith and Ryan Harrington's three-point play after Gimre's three-point play created a 10-point lead.

With Whiteside's three-point play and Blake's inside bucket, the Raiders threatened again at 49-44. The Wildcats scored the next 8 points with Ricci's driving basket, Nelson free throws, a Wilkins putback after a steal by Jeremy Belingon and a Ricci basket inside off a Nelson pass.

"We had that great play with the and-1 (by Gimre) and then Jeremy stealing the ball. Those little plays give you the momentum the rest of the game," Gimre said. "(Six turnovers) means we were smart with the ball, our guards were able to bring it up the floor and give it to our wings and start our offense."

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