2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/27/2018 11:05 PM

Teamwork helps Hinsdale South sink DeKalb

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By Andy Martinez
Daily Herald Correspondent

Billy Durkin and the Hinsdale South boys basketball team were having success early in the fourth quarter by feeding Zion Griffin in the post.

So much so that DeKalb began double-teaming him in the post when he got the ball.

Two of Hinsdale South's first three possessions of the quarter resulted in Griffin layups. So, on the Hornets' fifth possession, when Durkin fed the ball to Griffin, Griffin changed things up.

"I dished it back out," Griffin said. "Billy's a shooter, I trust him to shoot, I know when its crunchtime, he'll pull through."

Durkin repaid Griffin's trust. The sophomore sank a right-wing 3-pointer that extended the Hornets lead to 7 and dashed any hopes of an upset for DeKalb. Hinsdale South hung on for a 43-37 semifinal win over the Barbs in Darien.

"We've had a few of those during the year were we can just get easy shots off of it when they help on him," Durkin said. "I just moved and then I got a wide-open 3."

Usually, though, Durkin has knocked down a couple of 3s to get his rhythm going. That shot with 3 minutes, 1 second to play was just Durkin's second shot attempt -- he missed a 3 in the second quarter -- of the night.

"I just know, practicing my shots," Durkin said, "that I've hit so many of those in practice, that when I get into the game, it just feels like it's going in."

And it pumped up the Hornets (21-6).

"Shot was big, because the game was close, guys were kind of losing a little potential," Griffin said. "I feel like a lot of guys were losing focus and our heads weren't on straight. I felt like after he made that shot it kind of showed who wanted the game more."

Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore told Griffin to look for the open man.

"Coach was telling me I was taking a lot of 'me' shots and I kind of felt that I was, too," Griffin, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 8 rebounds, said. "There were some shots that I felt that I could've trusted in my teammates a little more and passed it. I felt the trust in (Durkin) and I let him shoot it."

The 13th-seeded Barbs (17-13) were hoping their defense would help lead them to the upset. In the first half the game plan seemed to be working. Hinsdale South was 8 of 18 from the floor, 1 of 5 from the 3-point line and trailed 19-18 at the half.

"First half, their pressure, it just got to us," Durkin said. "We didn't really respond to it really well, so that's kind of how they got their lead."

It was exactly what Moore expected.

"DeKalb did a good job of putting us in some tough spots," Moore said. "We knew they're too good of a team, coach (Al) Biancalana is too good of a coach to just play straight up man. We knew we were going to get your-season's-on-the-line-type defense."

It took until the third quarter for Hinsdale South to really get through it.

After DeKalb's Michael Albert stuck a pair of free throws to make it 23-22 Barbs, the Hornets finished the final 2:23 on an 8-0 run. Robert Barnes found Ramon Norman open for a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the quarter to cap the run.

"We were taking kind of wild shots," Norman said. "It got us timid a little bit, but we slowed it down. Calm down. Take easy shots, move the ball and we'll get a good win."

They also did that with some stout defense down the stretch. The Hornets held the Barbs to 3-of-7 shooting and forced two turnovers over the final 3:01 of the game.

"It's a good test," Griffin said. "When it comes (to playoffs), it's showing what we're really made of. I mean anyone can talk, but when it's right here, the clock is going, you go to show what you're really made of."

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