Downers Grove South survives Willowbrook rally
The chances of Willowbrook overcoming a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit at Downers Grove South were pretty much slim and none, but that's not to say Warriors guard Everett Stubblefield III and his teammates were going to go down without a fight.
Stubblefield put on a dazzling display on both ends of the floor down the stretch, helping Willowbrook close to within 2 points before the Mustangs regrouped enough to survive 72-68 Saturday night for their 18th win on their last 20 games.
Stubblefield, who finished with a game-high 24 points, had four layups in the final four minutes of the game, including a couple acrobatic drives and a bank off the glass that closed the gap to 67-65 with 1:05 left to go. One of his quick darts to the rim resulted in a three-point play. He later capped off his big finish with a 3-point shot in the final seconds.
But all the heroics from the junior guard and his Warriors mates could only make the final score close after the Mustangs (19-6, 9-2) played a stellar first half for a 42-23 lead. That grew to an even 20 points at 59-39 with one quarter left in the West Suburban Conference Gold Division clash.
It was the Mustangs' third win of the week and the third solid showing from 6-foot-2 senior guard Justin Eagins, who knocked down six 3s on his way to a team-high 22 points. He had 28 points in Tuesday's come-from-behind win over Morton and an 18-point, 7-assist effort in a win over Maine West.
"Justin was just an absolute beast. He had one of his best games ever," Downers Grove South coach Kris Olson said. "He's just our leader. We've had three big wins this week and we were down 10 to Morton with two minutes to go and we won. He should be player of the week."
Eagins credits his teammates for getting him the ball in the first half when he was hot from beyond the arc. He also credits the coaches and the entire program for rebounding from a 1-4 start this season and turning into one of the hottest teams around.
"We're good playing off one another. My teammates kept hitting (me with passes) and I was just capping it off," he said. "That's what we do. We feed the hot hand and believe in each other. It's pretty fun to be on this winning streak, especially after how we started. We knew we controlled our destiny and we kept working hard and believed in each other."
Warriors coach Chris Perkins loved his team's 29-13 charge in the final quarter and the 22 forced turnovers. The start, however, could have been a little better from his team, which fell to 14-10, 6-4.
"Our guys do a good job of not packing it in," Perkins said. "That fight we had in the fourth quarter, I would like to see us start with. I know that's hard to sustain for four quarters, but at least don't dig yourself a hole."
Stubblefield agreed, saying: "One thing coach said he was proud of was we didn't pack it in and we fought until the end of the game. It was pretty fun getting those steals and some easy baskets. We want to play like we did in the fourth quarter for the remaining five games and the playoffs."