Glenbard West lights up Bolingbrook, will play for state title
CHAMPAIGN -- Rob Brost did a few things out of the box to give his Bolingbrook team a chance to compete with Glenbard West on Friday.
The Raiders practiced with pool noodles in guys' hands to simulate the Hilltoppers' length. Bolingbrook played zone for all but one possession, which it almost never does.
"When (Bobby) Durkin is hitting shots like that, they're almost impossible to beat," Brost said.
Durkin hit shots at a record rate.
Glenbard West's 6-foot-7 senior guard made seven 3-pointers, matching a Class 4A finals record, and scored 30 points.
Durkin's sizzling shooting, in large part, allowed Glenbard West to pull away from what was a close game for nearly a half for a 77-47 win in the Class 4A semifinal at State Farm Center.
Durkin, who made 7 of his 12 3-point attempts, tied former Stevenson star Jalen Brunson, Evanston's Blake Peters and Fremd's Kyle Silwa for the Class 4A record.
"It was definitely a super-cool experience," Durkin said with a wide smile at mention of the record. "Teammates were able to get me open and I was able to knock down shots that were given to me."
None were bigger than Durkin's 3-pointer that opened the floodgates.
It extended what was a 4-point game midway through the second quarter, and started a 12-0 run that ended the half with Glenbard West in command up 38-22. Durkin scored the first seven points of the run and scored 17 of his 30 in the first half.
"We were a little stagnant offensively in the first half for moments, but it's just our willingness to keep moving the ball, and unselfishness trying to get the best shot," Durkin said. "One that possession, one more pass to me and I was open and I was able to knock it down. After that we got some confidence and it opened things for us."
Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff added 20 points and hit three of Glenbard West's 13 3s, Princeton commit Caden Pierce had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and Ryan Renfro 8 points and 10 rebounds for Glenbard West (36-1). Michael Osei-Bonsu had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Mekhi Cooper 14 points for Bolingbrook (30-7), which had a 16-game winning streak snapped.
The Hilltoppers, No. 1 all season, will play Whitney Young, which edged Barrington 51-47 earlier Friday, for the program's first state title at 7 p.m. Saturday. Several of the Hilltoppers' seniors were on an eighth-grade team that won a middle school state title.
"We've finally got to the point where we can finish what we started and set out to do back in sixth or seventh grade, when we talked about it," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "In eighth grade we met about it and tomorrow we have an opportunity to obtain it. It's really special."
It took Glenbard West time to find its rhythm against Bolingbrook's zone. Pierce air-balled a 3 on the first possession, and the next two ended in turnovers. Meanwhile, Bolingbrook's Mekhi Cooper himself hit two of his four 3s and scored eight of his 14 points in the quarter.
But Huff followed with two 3-pointers and Durkin hit the first of his seven for a 17-11 lead after a quarter.
It eventually snowballed to Glenbard West's sixth straight postseason win by at least 26 points.
The game Saturday night will be a rematch of Glenbard West's 74-59 over Young Jan. 22. The Dolphins (25-9), ranked No. 2 in the preseason, since then have not lost to an Illinois team and won a Chicago city championship.
"They're obviously a great team -- they have made it to a state championship for a reason and they're also obviously a lot better than when we played them in January and they were missing one of their starters, so they're a completely new team and they showed it tonight," Pierce said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. We're excited about the opportunity."