Glenbard West captures championship in overtime
Paxton Warden didn't let the pressure bother him on Friday.
The Glenbard West sophomore played like a veteran, drilling a key 3-pointer late in regulation and making all four of his free-throw attempts in overtime to vault the Hilltoppers to a thrilling 74-71 victory in the championship game of the 18th annual Glenbard West Holiday Classic.
The Hilltoppers (11-1) hit 13 3-pointers and led for most of regulation but needed 9-0 run in overtime to keep the championship trophy in Glen Ellyn.
Warden had many big moments in the victory over De La Salle, finishing with a personal-high 15 points and three 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Braden Huff led all scorers with a personal-high 28 points, including hitting five 3-pointers. Diallo Phillips also made two 3s to end with 17 points.
"It was very nerve-racking, but our bench and fans kept us going," Warden said. "We all had good energy and that helped a lot. It felt great to win. We played good defense and made some key free throws. I just tried to keep in the zone."
Huff scored 19 points in the first half to spark the Hilltoppers to a 34-29 lead. The 6-foot-9 Huff displayed his vast potential, hitting 3s from numerous spots on the court, blocking shots and hitting teammates for key assists.
"The fans came out and the whole team was in it and when we got down nobody put their heads down," Huff said. "It all started with our coach having trust in us when we got down. We all stuck together."
Glenbard West led 10-2 early in the first quarter, but the Meteors fought back behind a solid game from Abnar Muhammad, who scored 18 points.
Warden scored five straight points in the third quarter to give his team a 44-38 lead, but the Meteors hit back-to-back 3s early in the fourth to stay within striking range. DaJuan Bates drilled a deep 3-pointer to give De La Salle a 60-58 lead with 1:51 left in regulation, but Warden answered with a corner 3 for a 62-61 lead with 59 seconds left.
The Meteors forced overtime when Kalya Paylor drained a 30-footer at the buzzer. De La Salle scored the first five points in the extra session before the Hilltoppers turned up the defensive pressure. De La Salle missed eight straight shots, while Glenbard West made nine free throws, including four by Warden in the final minute, to pull out the win.
"We just wanted to compete at a high level and De La Salle was a great team," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoko said. "We definitely think we can learn from this and grow. Our kids are progressing at a pace that should be successful for the rest of the season. Paxton is a big-time shooter and shoots with confidence and a chip on his shoulder. He showed he wasn't afraid to shoot the ball in a big moment."