History wasn't kind to Willowbrook's boys basketball team, so the Warriors had to make their own.
In a thriller typical of the two top teams in the West Suburban Gold, Willowbrook edged Hinsdale South 61-56 in overtime to claim Friday's Class 4A Hinsdale South regional championship.
About that history. The Warriors (25-5) broke last year's program record for victories while winning their first regional title since coach Chris Perkins was a senior in 2004.
Willowbrook's entire starting lineup, meanwhile, made their own personal history. Friday marked their first win in Hinsdale South's gym in three seasons together on varsity.
"It's unreal," said Warriors senior Ethan Schuemer, who had a huge game with 26 points and 13 rebounds. "When we came to Willowbrook High School, we knew we wanted to take over and turn it into a great basketball program."
Fourth-seeded Hinsdale South (21-7) had the momentum after Kaleb Thomas hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 52. Robert Barnes then scored the first 4 points of the extra period to give the Hornets their first lead since midway through the second quarter at 56-52.
A Schuemer bucket and a three-point play by Matthew Myers, who missed some game time with a shoulder injury, pushed the fifth-seeded Warriors (25-5) to a 57-56 lead with 35.2 seconds left.
Neil Paxton Jr. made a pair of free throws to boost the advantage to 59-56 with 14.3 left, and the Warriors survived a second game-tying 3-point attempt. Paxton sealed it with another two free throws.
"It feels a little heavy but it's fine," Myers said of his shoulder. "I kept it warmed up on the bench so I could go back in. I knew they were going to need me to come out and make a big play."
In his last high school game, Iowa State-bound Hinsdale South senior Zion Griffin battled foul trouble all night before fouling out in overtime. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Willowbrook's 15-4 run at the end of the first half gave the Warriors a 32-24 lead, a margin that went as wide as 9 points midway through the third quarter. The Hornets steadily rallied before Thomas drained the tying 3.
"It's a tough one," said Hornets coach Brett Moore, whose team was the outright Gold champion. "But this team brought it every single night for us. They battled right to the end."
Matas Masys scored 13 points and Paxton Jr. added 9 points for Willowbrook, which received a tremendous defensive effort from Sikander Zafar on Griffin. Barnes had 14 points and Aaron Tims scored 10 for Hinsdale South.
Willowbrook advances to the Glenbard East sectional semifinals to face top-seeded Naperville North (26-2), a winner over Geneva, at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"Both teams are championship level," Perkins said. "Unfortunately we had to face each other in the regional, but we'll take it."
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