St. Francis boys basketball coach Erin Dwyer took Wednesday's 50-44 Glenbard West Holiday Classic win over Glenbard North almost begrudgingly.
Dwyer was a fixture for years at Glenbard North with Panthers coach Joe Larson.
"Joe and I have been friends for a long time," Dwyer said. "It's always hard. Not only did I go to school there I played there, I coached there for 18 years and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I think he's one of the best coaches in the state."
As the game went on both coaches switched between man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone.
"Obviously we go way back and coached together for a long time," Larson said. "We know a lot of the stuff that we both like to do and things like that, but (it's) not too difficult. Actually it's kind of fun."
St. Francis (4-10) scored the game's last 5 points on Andrew Harvey's free throw and 4 by Mike Cascella over the last 39 seconds, gaining key offensive rebounds by Harvey and sparkplug Bryce Walker.
The Spartans cruised to an early 13-4 lead but Glenbard North (0-12) raced back to 18-18 midway in the second quarter. The Panthers were within 45-44 with 57 seconds remaining on Lee Rady's jump shot in the lane.
"Our offense was kind of struggling in the first half, but we just kept playing through it," said Rady, who led the Panthers with 14 points. Noah Callahan scored 9 points, all on 3-pointers, while Darryl Creamer scored 7 with 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
Steals helped fuel the Panthers, but eventually St. Francis got it handled. Committing 10 turnovers in the first half, the Spartans turned it over just four times in the second.
"They kept getting good layups, good shots off of our turnovers. And I think that when we stopped turning the ball over it helped us a lot," said hardworking Spartans center John Detloff.
Fielding at one point or another 6-foot-5 Detloff, 6-6 Walker, 6-5 Noah Howard, 6-3 Quin Kubiak and 6-4 Harvey -- whose 14 points tied Cascella and Rady for game honors -- St. Francis owned the size advantage.
"Obviously, we're outsized every single game, but we're just trying to work harder than everyone," Rady said after a familiar scenario between familiar coaches.
"There's always that kind of rivalry, I guess, right?" Detloff asked. "(Dwyer) wants to win, they want to win. It's just one of those games."