Willowbrook ties 47-year-old school wins record
None of Willowbrook's players were alive the last time the Warriors won 23 games.
Shoot, neither was Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins, himself a former Warrior.
So guys like junior center Ethan Schuemer and senior guard Iman Reynolds were understandably pumped up after beating Morton 52-39 on Friday night in Villa Park.
Schuemer tallied a game-high 16 points, while Reynolds added 12 points as the Warriors (23-2, 8-2 West Suburban Gold) tied the school record for wins, set in 1969-70.
"I told the kids that the record was set in 1969-70 season, so I think that's 47 years," Perkins said. "That's a long time, longer than I've been alive, so it's pretty neat.
"Now it's time to beat it. We'll have a chance to beat it on Tuesday."
Reynolds and Schuemer made sure Willowbrook held off the scrappy but young Mustangs, who have only two seniors in their rotation.
Reynolds sank five straight shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, in scoring all of his points in the first half to give the Warriors a 28-15 lead. Schuemer demonstrated his usual consistency as he tallied 8 points on either side of halftime.
"I feel good," Reynolds said. "It's been great coming back, being able to play with these guys. It's a great group that I feel like can make a strong run in the playoffs."
Reynolds returned to the team in January after being academically ineligible for nearly two years. He gives the Warriors a big lift off the bench.
"He's been huge, especially when he gets hot," Schuemer said. "When he shoots that ball, I have confidence in him every time.
"We're always looking for him. Sometimes it works out better with (certain) teams, so when he comes in, if we get him hot right away, teams start getting out on him and that opens up the floor for us."
Indeed, when Reynolds and Matas Masys, who scored 9 points, are on the floor at the same time, Willowbrook can be a potent and balanced team.
"He has a different dynamic," Perkins said. "He's a bigger guard and he's a lefty.
"He can handle the ball, so I can put him at the point and I can put him on the perimeter. So it's a different dimension for our team."
Another dimension that makes this Willowbrook team perhaps the finest in school history is its ability to win close games. The Warriors don't panic when things get tight, as it did when Morton (8-13, 3-7) pulled within 35-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Guard Sikander Zafar opened the fourth quarter with a steal and layup for his only points, and on the next possession he fed Matys for a 3-pointer. The Mustangs never got closer than 8 after that.
"We're actually used to playing in close games like that so when we get down, you find ways to pull games out," Reynolds said. "When it gets down to the hard work and who is going to make the last play, we always feel like it is going to be us."