Glenbard West avenges loss to Proviso West
Proviso West defeated Glenbard West once already this season. The Hilltoppers weren't going to let the Panthers do it again.
Glenbard West blew the game open from the start, cruising to a 69-40 victory Tuesday at the Class 4A Hinsdale Central regional semifinals. The Hilltoppers will play at 7 p.m. Friday in their first boys basketball regional final since 2011, meeting either No. 7 seed Wheaton North or No. 10 Hinsdale Central. The Falcons and Red Devils own the other two victories against the second-seeded Hilltoppers (24-3) this season.
"Friday night we're going to be playing a team we lost to as well," Hilltoppers senior Justin Pierce said. "It gets us more motivated and focused. We know we have to come out strong because we could lose to those types of teams.
"I'm excited. If we play like this we're going to be a dangerous team."
No. 15 Proviso West (10-14) -- which defeated Glenbard West by 6 on Jan. 22 -- tried to take away Pierce, using a box-and-one defense against him. Hilltoppers senior Alex Passi forced the Panthers to go to Plan B in a hurry.
Passi hit 3-pointers on his first three shots, then assisted Nick Diver on his 3-pointer to give the Hilltoppers a quick 12-2 lead. It was 20-5 when Passi converted a layup off a Chris Langan steal and assist to finish the first quarter.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy so we knew we had to get off to a good start," Pierce said. "They're a team that if you give them a little momentum they can be a dangerous team. I thought that hot start really helped us out."
Passi finished with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
"I've been playing with him forever, so I know that he can get hot like that," Pierce said. "In practice every once in a while he just won't miss like that. But I've never seen anyone start a game like that with three straight 3s. I've never seen that at the high school level. That was awesome, because if they're going to try to take me away with a box-and-one, teams gotta know that he'll make them pay."
Pierce finished with 17 points, 13 of them coming in the third quarter to eliminate any hopes Proviso West had of a comeback. His two-handed dunk of a slick Langan assist put the game away at 49-18 midway through the third.
Neither Pierce nor Passi played the final nine minutes of the game.
"The last couple of games (Passi) hadn't shot real well," Hilltoppers coach Tim Hoder said. "He's due, and he's turned himself into such a good shooter that that kind of stuff doesn't surprise me at all. He's capable of that at any time."
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