Lyons Twp. hands Glenbard West another defeat
The season arcs for Lyons Township and Glenbard West have gone in opposite directions.
Thanks to Grant Niego, that trend continued Tuesday in LaGrange.
Scoring all but two of his team's 17 points in the first quarter, the Lions senior guard finished with 30 points in a 56-47 victory over the Hilltoppers.
LT (17-8, 6-6 West Suburban Silver) has won nine of its last 11 games and four in a row.
"We knew both of our teams would play defense, both are good at defense," Niego said about his team jumping out to a 17-7 lead. "We also knew their top scorer (Braden Huff) was out (with a knee injury) and we wanted to take advantage of that. We wanted to come out with a hot start at our place in what could be a low-energy weekday game."
Niego is the fourth of his immediate family to play in the program (cousin Noah also played) following older brothers Harrison, Connor and Nolan. Youngest brother Jackson is a freshman at the school.
"It's been a dream come true," Niego said. "I've thought about these moments since when Harrison, my oldest brother, was playing. I've dreamt about being in the spotlight on this court."
After Glenbard West used a 12-0 run to pull within 41-38, Niego hit the biggest shot of the game with a driving layup off the glass with 3:50 left. He added seven free throws in the final minute and also contributed 9 rebounds and 3 steals.
"He is pretty good at everything," said LT coach Tom Sloan, whose team takes on Riverside-Brookfield later this week. "He can shoot it, he can drive it and score, he's a very good passer. He can handle pressure with the ball in his hands, he makes good decisions. All that makes a great basketball player even without the defensive side.
"And Grant is a good defender on and off the ball and he's a really good rebounder."
Ben Engels added 9 points for the Lions.
The Hilltoppers (15-12, 2-9), who have now lost seven of their past eight games, were led by the 17 points of Diallo Phillips. He knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the visitors mounted their comeback from a 15-point halftime deficit.
Paxton Warden nailed three 3s for 9 points and Aidan Murphy and Colin Lewis both scored 7. Huff is the team's leading scorer on the winter at nearly 16 points a game.
"We got off to a slow start," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "I thought in the second half, we fought hard. We cut it to 3 there. We just have to continue to learn from it.
"We want to be playing our best basketball by the playoffs and we want to get in a position where we are confident going in. It's about continuing to compete at a high level and I thought we did that tonight."