Glenbard West celebrates as state champion Hilltoppers bring home the hardware

  • Senior Braden Huff carries in the first-place trophy as the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus Sunday.

    Senior Braden Huff carries in the first-place trophy as the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus Sunday. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Glenbard West senior Braden Huff enters a celebration rally Sunday carrying the IHSA Class 4A State Champion trophy the team won Saturday.

    Glenbard West senior Braden Huff enters a celebration rally Sunday carrying the IHSA Class 4A State Champion trophy the team won Saturday. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Fans and supporters cheer Sunday as the Glenbard West boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized during a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus.

    Fans and supporters cheer Sunday as the Glenbard West boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized during a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Fellow students and community members celebrated the return Sunday of Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team during a rally at the school's Fred L Biester Gymnasium.

    Fellow students and community members celebrated the return Sunday of Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team during a rally at the school's Fred L Biester Gymnasium. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Fans and supporters cheer Sunday as the Glenbard West boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized during a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus.

    Fans and supporters cheer Sunday as the Glenbard West boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized during a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn campus. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Senior Caden Pierce speaks to fellow students and supporters Sunday as he and his teammates on the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at a rally on campus Sunday.

    Senior Caden Pierce speaks to fellow students and supporters Sunday as he and his teammates on the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at a rally on campus Sunday. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Senior Braden Huff speaks to fellow students and supporters Sunday as he and his teammates on the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at a rally on campus Sunday.

    Senior Braden Huff speaks to fellow students and supporters Sunday as he and his teammates on the Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was recognized at a rally on campus Sunday. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Head Coach Jason Opoka speaks to his team's fans and supporters Sunday as his Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was welcomed home with a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn cam

    Head Coach Jason Opoka speaks to his team's fans and supporters Sunday as his Glenbard West High School boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team was welcomed home with a rally at the Fred L Biester Gymnasium on the school's Glen Ellyn cam Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Head Coach Jason Opoka enjoys the moment while confetti rains down Sunday during a rally to celebrate Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team.

    Head Coach Jason Opoka enjoys the moment while confetti rains down Sunday during a rally to celebrate Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

  • Head Coach Jason Opoka enjoys the moment while confetti rains down Sunday during a rally to celebrate Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team.

    Head Coach Jason Opoka enjoys the moment while confetti rains down Sunday during a rally to celebrate Glenbard West High School's boys IHSA Class 4A State Champion basketball team. Patrick Kunzer for the Daily Herald

 
 
Updated 3/13/2022 3:54 PM

Green-clad cheering students, families and community members packed the Fred L. Biester gymnasium on the campus of Glenbard West High School Sunday to welcome home their dominant Hilltoppers of the hardwood.

It's the first boys basketball state championship team in the century-long history of the Glen Ellyn public school. In fact, Glenbard West's wire-to-wire 56-34 victory over Whitney Young Saturday night in Champaign marks the first boys basketball state title from DuPage County since Hinsdale did it in 1909.

 

"The community support is crazy. I mean, we're so thankful for everything, for everyone coming out, and they played a huge part in our success," Caden Pierce, a senior guard, said after the rally. "We're just so thankful for everyone out there."

Pierce and his teammates entered the darkened gym with spotlight introductions through a corridor of cheerleaders holding pom-poms and family members giving high-fives.

Pierce, who has committed to play basketball at Princeton, and fellow senior Braden Huff, a Gonzaga recruit, took to the microphone to thank their fans and reflect on the historic season, after similar messages from coach Jason Opoka and athletic director Joe Kain.

The 40-minute celebration concluded when confetti cannons of sparkling green and silver pieces reigned on the team and onto the gymnasium floor amid the playing of "We Are the Champions" on the sound system. Youngsters clamored to get autographs from the players, who made it to the mountaintop -- err, hilltop -- seven years after they started playing together in middle school.

"The most important part of our team is we just love and care about each other so much. And that's what makes us so special," Pierce said. "We don't care who has the success. It's just all about the team goal in the end. The bonds I formed with these guys I'll remember forever."

• Photographer Patrick Kunzer and staff writer Kevin Schmit contributed to this report.

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