Downers Grove North ends Willowbrook's turnaround season
Regardless of who was or wasn't on the court Wednesday night, Downers Grove North looked like a team ready to take on all comers.
The Trojans toppled short-handed Willowbrook 65-52 to advance into the Class 4A Downers Grove South regional championship game.
After beating the East Aurora sectional's fifth seed, on Friday they'll face a familiar foe in No. 4 Hinsdale Central (21-6), which edged No. 12 Downers North (17-11) twice in West Suburban Silver action by a total of only 7 points. The Trojans look to capture their first regional title since 2002.
"We're just thankful to have the opportunity," said Trojans coach Jim Thomas. "Any time you get to play for a regional championship, it's just a great opportunity for the kids and it's a testament to how hard they've worked over the years to get there."
Willowbrook (21-7) played its second straight game without standout sophomore guard Alonzo Verge Jr., who was at the game but on the bench in street clothes. Warriors coach Chris Perkins said Verge, who averaged 23 points during the regular season, didn't play because of family issues and couldn't comment further.
Downers North immediately jumped on the Warriors without their leading scorer, taking off on a 10-0 run to start the game. The Trojans maintained the 10-point advantage at the end of the quarter and never let Willowbrook come closer than 8 points the rest of the game.
The Warriors had won 15 straight games until last week's loss to Hinsdale Central, the first game they played without Verge. The program won 20 games and a conference title for the first time since 1972.
"It's been business as usual," Perkins said of Verge's absence. "We were preparing for the playoffs, competing every day in practice and came up short tonight. Guys are crying and they've got their heads down and we're trying to let them see the positives as far as what they were able to accomplish this year."
Limiting Willowbrook to 5 points in the third quarter, Downers North built its biggest lead of 22 points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Jordon Kedrowski led the Trojans with 19 points while Myles Farley added 17 off the bench. Devin Blake scored 14 points and Matt Mahlke scored 10.
Jake Bruns led Willowbrook with 19 points. Chris Roycroft scored 10 points.
"The real story after the 10-0 run was the defense we played," Kedrowski said. "The 10-0 run was huge and it got us momentum and it got us going, but definitely the defensive side is what propelled us to that win."
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