Glenbard West tops Lyons Township again
Glenbard West's Ryan Renfro is suddenly a full-time basketball player.
Before this season, Renfro had his sights on playing big-time football.
In fact, the Glenbard West junior center did play big-time high school football. Renfro spent his sophomore season playing junior varsity football at Allen High School in Texas. Allen is well-known for its prodigious football facility, which costs $60 million to build and can hold nearly 22,000 fans.
After spending one season in Texas, Renfro transferred back to Glenbard West.
Glenbard West basketball coach Jason Opoka is certainly happy with that decision.
Renfro scored 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to power Glenbard West to a 58-40 win over Lyons in West Suburban Silver play on Tuesday night.
"I was playing football last year and didn't even know I was going to play basketball," Renfro said. "When I found out I was moving back, I worked really hard and was so hyped to play with these guys again. I've been playing with them since second grade.
"No more football for me. It's basketball. It's so weird to say that, especially since two years ago, I didn't know basketball was going to happen."
Now, Renfro finds himself playing big-time basketball and quickly become a key cog in the Hilltoppers' undefeated machine. Glenbard West (10-0, 4-0) defeated the Lions (7-3, 1-2) on their home floor for the second time this season.
"Ryan Renfro is the most vocal player for us on the basketball court," Opoka said. "He has very good footwork in the post and he's a leader defensively with the way he communicates on the floor."
On Tuesday, Braden Huff handled a heavy load on both ends, leading the Hilltoppers with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. Paxton Warden made three 3-pointers for 12 points Caden Pierce added 10.
The Lions (7-3, 1-2) were led by Christian Desimone's 17 points (5 3-pointers) and Tavari Johnson (11 points). Glenbard West jumped out to a 14-0 lead to cruise to its ninth double-digit victory this season.
"Ryan's combination of size and skill is a big deal for us," Huff said. "What he does in the post is great. He's been great for us on the glass and the energy and it showed tonight."
The Hilltoppers have an embarrassment of riches -- of talent, depth, size and height -- that Renfro's impact is often minimal in comparison to the elite talent of Huff and Pierce.
Yet, Renfro has managed to find his spot on the Hilltoppers and, in a normal season, he would be a key element in Glenbard West's quest to win a Class 4A state championship.
Renfro started his second straight game since Troy Glover has been slowed by an injury. Huff also returned to starting lineup after missing the Oak Park-River Forest game with a slight right knee injury.
"Ryan is super skilled and we're excited to have him back," Opoka said.
At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Renfro would be the sole enforcer on many teams in the state.
Not on the Hilltoppers.
Renfro is one of several players who have benefitted from the program's extensive work in the weight room. His long arms, active feet and speed caused fits for the Lions all game. Renfro scored the four points of the third quarter to raise the lead to 34-19. Renfro said he gained "25 pounds in the offseason" and he can dead lift 420 pounds.
Whenever the Lions keyed on Renfro, he kicked the ball out to Huff. The 6-8 Huff drilled a 3-pointer, off an pass from Renfro, to extend the Hilltoppers to a 40-22 lead.
Even with his added size, Renfro shows a shot touch on his perimeter shots. He made all five of his free-throw attempts.
"My teammates were getting me the ball and I was doing what my coaches taught me in practice," Renfro said.