Glenbard East rained 3s all first half Friday in "Boat's house."
In the end the Rams finally reigned in that historic house.
Glenbard East hit 8 first-half 3-pointers and went on to beat the host Tomcats 80-62 in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional final for the school's first sectional championship since 1964.
"I can't say enough about this group of guys," said Rams senior point guard Zach Miller, who had 22 points and 12 assists. "We've been here before, we believed and we did it. This is the best feeling winning with the history of this court."
Glenbard East (26-3), which advances to play Rockford Auburn (26-4) in Tuesday's NIU supersectional, twice advanced to sectionals at East Aurora in 2006-07. Both times the Rams lost in the semifinals.
Not this time.
"Sometimes you have to go through adversity in life," Glenbard East coach Scott Miller said, "and it makes it sweeter. It still hurts for those former players, but this certainly lessens the sting. This is for all those guys."
East Aurora (24-6), coming off an upset over No. 1 Benet on Tuesday, scored the game's first 8 points. Ryan Boatright took a pass on the opening tip and slammed home the first basket.
But after a timeout Glenbard East answered with an 11-0 run that started with a Miller 3-pointer and ended with another Miller 3.
The Rams led 15-14 after a quarter, then went 5 of 5 from 3 in the second quarter to surge ahead 37-24 at half. Johnny Hill, who had a team-high 23 points, knocked down a pair of 3s. Kevin Priebe, Dante Bailey, Steve Kinney and Pat Walsh also got in on the act.
Glenbard East went 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, a blistering 61 percent on total field goals.
"That's what we do," Scott Miller said. "It's not unusual or out of character. Fortunately tonight we were knocking them down."
Zach Miller had 8 of his assists in the first half, showing a sixth sense to spot the open man.
"You can't explain it," said his coach and dad, "but he knows where all nine other guys are on the court at all times. It's amazing."
Glenbard East threw everything but the kitchen sink defensively to keep Boatright in check.
The Rams started in a box-and-one defense with 5-foot-9 Tyree York shadowing Boatright. When York picked up two fouls, Glenbard East went with a 3-2 zone. The Rams also tried a triangle-and-two and straight man for good measure.
"Give their coaching staff credit. That's what slowed us down," East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. "You have to recognize those defenses and adjust, and kids don't recognize it as quickly as the coaching staff. We had kids being hesitant."
Boatright was visibly frustrated throughout, exhausted by game's end and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-21 shooting.
"Ryan Boatright's an unbelievable player. He can score at will," Zach Miller said. "What does he average? Thirty-something? I think anything under 30 is quiet for him, right?"
In what seemed like an interminably long fourth quarter, East Aurora drew as close at 65-57 with 3:42 left.
But Glenbard East hit 21 of 26 free throws in the fourth quarter, Miller making 14 of 16 11 in a row at one point.
"We knew deep down we could take a punch," Miller said.
John Williams scored 17 points for East Aurora. Priebe scored 13 and Bailey 9 for Glenbard East.
Hill said the Rams no doubt felt like the "other" team at East Aurora this week. Not after Friday.
"We got word from around the state that we couldn't do it," the Illinois State recruit said. "That was our biggest motivation. No disrespect, but we were the 22nd-ranked team in the state. I think we were definitely forgotten about. We deserve this."
Glenbard East High School
East Aurora High School
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