Defense carries Hinsdale Central past Downers Grove North
Facing an opponent known for its defensive prowess, Hinsdale Central flipped the script Friday night.
Holding Downers Grove North to six made field goals in the second half, the Red Devils pulled away to a 47-37 home victory in the West Suburban Silver opener.
Hinsdale Central (4-1, 1-0) forced nine Trojans' turnovers over the final two quarters to overcome a 21-19 halftime deficit.
"It was just communication, talking, having each other's backs at the defensive end," said Hinsdale Central's Ben Oosterbaan, who led all scorers with 21 points. "Just play as hard as we could. Coach (Nick) Latorre said whoever plays the hardest in the second half will win the game and we believe what he says.
"We've worked very hard in practice on our defense. It's mainly what we focus on. We love it and we embrace it."
The Red Devils seized control with an 11-3 run to start the third quarter, highlighted by back-to-back steals and layups by Jake Quast and Oosterbaan. Quast finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals and Oosterbaan also contributed 4 steals.
Chase Collignon added 13 points, 7 of which came in the fourth quarter as the home team's lead reached double digits at 41-31 halfway through the period.
"Coach has been pushing us really hard," Collignon said about the team's strong start to the season, which includes wins over Naperville North, Downers Grove South and West Aurora at the Hoops for Healing tournament. "We are thankful to him and all of the coaches, they've been getting us ready to play.
"Coach's big thing is practice should be 10 times harder than the games and that's how it is. Those first two weeks of practice really prepared us for what we have to do."
Hinsdale Central, which went 11-4 during the shortened 2020-21 season, turned the ball over just twice in the second half after seven giveaways in the first 16 minutes.
"I said it at the beginning, I said it at halftime, that was an old-fashioned West Suburban Conference Friday night rock fight," Latorre said. "Two teams that were physical and disciplined. I thought it was a really good basketball game.
"The start of the third quarter was the turning point. I thought our second half was really good. Only having two turnovers, that was the difference."
Downers Grove North (3-2), which was coming off a Wheaton Academy tournament championship, led by as many as four points on multiple occasions in the first half. The Trojans took their last lead at 23-21 early in the third quarter.
Max Haack topped the visitors with 12 points and Jacob Bozeman had 11 to go along with 2 blocked shots. Both juniors knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
"I don't know if we got tired or they got more physical," Downers North coach Jim Thomas said. "We just didn't execute. You've got to make shots and you have got to be able to beat some 1-on-1 pressure. Hopefully, it will be a learning experience for them. They will be fine."