Glenbard West blocks Glenbard South's path
Glenbard South may be a couple miles down the road, but it was close enough for Glenbard West to throw a block party on the basketball court Monday night.
In the season opener for both teams, and Game 2 of the District 87 Thanksgiving Tournament, the district rivals put on a defensive battle, with the host Hilltoppers racking up 9 blocked shots en route to the 45-42 victory.
"We teach 'H'ing up. When we contest shots, we like to 'H' up," first-year Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "Arms up, but we don't like to leave our feet. We're in the path of the ball and it puts us in good rebounding position. But we also have length and (blocking shots) is easier to do when you have length on the perimeter and on the inside."
The Hilltoppers used every bit of that length until the final buzzer.
Glenbard South looked in trouble late, down 3 and without the ball inside of a minute remaining. But Trevor Burnett came up with a steal to give the Raiders hope.
Glenbard South actually had two looks at a 3-pointer for the time, but each shot fell short of the mark.
"I thought we had a good look," Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said. "I think it was (Glenbard West's Braden Huff) who closed out; he's a long kid and gave us a little trouble with it, but we had a good look, just didn't fall for us."
Huff, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, led Glenbard West with 3 blocked shots, while 6-6 Jalen Williams added 2 and four Hilltoppers had 1 each.
It was a tight contest throughout, the largest differential was Glenbard West's 6-point advantage in the third quarter.
Glenbard West used a balanced offense to get out to leads of 23-21 at halftime and 37-33 after three quarters.
Diallo Phillips and Caden Pierce led Glenbard West with 11 points apiece, while Huff chipped in 10. Danny Mulcare had 6 points to go with 4 rebounds.
"I think we shared the ball well," Opoka said. "We spaced the floor. ... It was a total team effort, and I do see this team at like four guys around 10-point total throughout the season."
On the other end Glenbard South's Brandon Malone put on an offensive show, scoring 22 points on a variety of shots, from driving layups to stepback jumpers and even a breakaway left-handed dunk.
The Raiders also got 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals from Jacob Folkerts, 8 points from Nick Plaso, and 5 points and 3 rebounds from Cam Goodrum.
But in the fourth quarter the Glenbard West defense allowed just 9 points and only 4 from Malone.
"I felt like we were energized," said Phillips, a senior point guard. "We knew it was important to play great defense to win the game."
In Game 1 of the tournament, Glenbard East topped Glenbard North 64-49. Glenbard West plays Glenbard North and Glenbard East plays Glenbard South on Tuesday in Glen Ellyn.