Glenbard West avoids overtime against Naperville Central
With Justin Pierce on the bench after fouling out, Alex Passi didn't want Saturday's nonconference boys basketball game with Naperville Central to head into overtime.
So the Glenbard West senior took matters into his own hands.
Receiving an inbounds pass at three-quarters court with 2.9 seconds left on the clock, Passi took two dribbles and calmly banked in a half-court shot off one leg to give the Hilltoppers a 46-43 victory.
"When I caught it, I knew I had two dribbles," said Passi, who added that the team sometimes has mini-shooting competitions from that spot at the end of practice. "And then I just threw it up there. It actually looked good when I shot it, but I didn't call bank. It was straight on so it had a chance."
Glenbard West coach Tim Hoder was most concerned about getting the ball inbounds and not throwing the ball away in the backcourt.
"I actually thought about just killing the clock," Hoder said. "But Alex made a great play. He got enough space to get the shot off and it looked good to me as soon as he let it go."
That final shot capped off a frantic last two minutes after the Redhawks' James Kendrick made two free throws to push the visitors ahead 39-38.
Pierce, held to 15 points by a stout Naperville Central defense, came up with a steal and was intentionally fouled at the 1:35 mark. He made both free throws and on the ensuing possession, Connor Mullins was also fouled and he connected on his pair of attempts for a 42-39 lead.
But the Redhawks' Justin Jopes answered with two makes at the free-throw line. After Passi split a pair with 14.3 seconds on the clock, Matthew Meier tied the contest with two free throws on Pierce's fifth foul.
"(The Redhawks) are a very good team," Passi said, "and their physicality is what kept it a low-scoring game and a very close game. In practice Friday we had a bad practice. We were going through the motions and not really pushing each other and we were surprised when they came out and starting taking it to us. They got off to a great start, props to them for taking advantage. We had to fight back the whole game."
Indeed, the visitors began the game with a 14-2 spurt and were ahead by seven after the opening quarter. A 9-0 run to begin the second gave Glenbard West its first lead at 16-14.
"I don't think either team played extremely well," Hoder said. "It wasn't a very pretty game, but the kids played hard. And their kids play so hard. They are extremely well-coached and they do so many different things. Naperville Central never makes things easy on you."
The Redhawks (4-2), who lost Harrison Hallstrom to an injury after he scored 9 points in the first quarter, were led by Meier's 17 points.
Passi added 13 points for Glenbard West, which will enter West Suburban Silver play next Friday against York with a perfect 6-0 record.
"Last year, we won the Glenbard tournament and then lost a few games," Passi said. "Last year we were a little down going into conference play. Conference is very important and this momentum will hopefully bring success."