Glenbard North's strong 2nd half breaks open win over West Chicago
It didn't take long for Glenbard North to show host West Chicago that the second half of Saturday afternoon's boys basketball game might not be quite as enjoyable as the first two quarters.
The Panthers, who led just 25-24 at the half, picked up the pace on both sides of the floor in the second half and used a barrage of inside buckets and forced turnovers to win going away 56-38. Glenbard North opened the third quarter with a fastbreak reverse layup from sophomore JJ Hernandez and followed that up with a pair of quick driving baskets by Josh Applewhite for a quick 6-0 run.
James Dean and Payton Bowser then added 3-pointers and the pressure defense sparked by Donald Davis at the top helped limit the Wildcats (1-4) to just six points in the quarter, which ended with the visitors holding a 40-30 lead. When the defense forced seven more turnovers in the final quarter, the Panthers (3-3) coasted to the 18-point win.
"In the second half we all got together and talked about it. We said let's get after this and let's do it," said Hernandez, who had 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. "On defense we ran our zone and Donald [Davis] was up front and it was pressure, pressure, pressure.
"That's exactly what happened. Our defense got going and it picked everything up."
West Chicago coach Bill Recchia didn't have many complaints about a first half in which sophomore Hudson Parker hit a pair of 3s to tally eight points and Ayden Russo also knocked down two long-range baskets as the home team trailed by a single point at the break.
"We didn't put two halves together," Recchia said. "We're dealing with a group of kids who right now are very inexperienced at the varsity level. We put together a solid first half, but we need to put together a full game. We're growing. We're getting better each game we go out there and we expect them to continue to improve."
Glenbard North coach Kevin Tonn knows when his team plays tough defense and shares the ball on offense that they can be a tough team to contend with. That's what they did over the final three quarters on Saturday, turning a 14-10 deficit after eight minutes of play into a somewhat easy victory.
"I was really happy with the defensive pressure that we applied, especially in the second half," he said. "That was a key and that really changed the course of the game in terms of getting offensive points off of our defense.
"That's our strength. When we play unselfish basketball, guys are playing 94 feet, that's our goal. That's when we run on all cylinders."
Applewhite finished with 12 points and 4 steals for the Panthers, while Parker scored 10 points for the Wildcats and Russo and James Kostomiris each added nine.
"The team came together at the half," Applewhite said. "It was mostly our defensive pressure and that got our offense going. We picked up the pace and we got those fastbreaks."