Glenbard West crowds out Yorkville Christian
It was a game the likes Braden Huff and Glenbard West will never seen again this season.
The Hilltoppers' first true road game in front of fans in two years saw greater than 1,000 fans crammed into a sold-out gym, "The Canyon" at Yorkville Christian. The unique matchup featured the No. 1 in Class 4A Hilltoppers versus Class 1A No. 1 Yorkville Christian.
And, of course, there was the biggest reason for the hype.
The matchup featured two of the state's top three players, Gonzaga commit Huff and Yorkville Christian's Jaden Schutt, a Duke recruit.
"It was a lot of fun, obviously a lot of the Yorkville crowd came out tonight," Huff said. "The energy was high for sure. But our group is so tight-knit I think we handled ourselves well."
As happens often, the Hilltoppers' size was the difference.
The 6-foot-11 Huff led a huge Glenbard West advantage on the boards and led five Hilltoppers in double figure scoring with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
Glenbard West never trailed after scoring the game's first nine points, overwhelming a much smaller Yorkville Christian team 93-68.
"I always want to affect the game in multiple ways. That's a big thing for my game," Huff said. "Just being able to pass the ball, score the ball, rebound the ball and tonight I think with my size I was able to do that."
Glenbard West (8-0) had a huge advantage on Yorkville Christian (5-4) size-wise. All five Hilltoppers' starters are 6-foot-4 or taller, four of five at least 6-6. Schutt, at 6-6, is the only Mustangs' starter taller than 6-2.
That disparity played out.
Glenbard West outrebounded Yorkville Christian 21-8 in the first half, half of the Hilltoppers' rebounds at the offensive end. Bobby Durkin, a 6-foot-7 Army recruit, had 23 points and 7 rebounds.
On multiple occasions Huff simply went over Yorkville Christian players and turned it into second-chance points with four dunks.
"One of our goals for today was to outrebound them by double digits," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "We knew we had a big advantage because of our height and our length. We prioritize hitting the offensive glass and defensive glass."
Schutt scored 21 points for Yorkville Christian, 19 of that total coming in the first half. He didn't score in the second half until the final minute.
K.J. Vasser added 20 for the Mustangs, 17 in the second half.
Schutt had his best stretch in the second quarter when he scored 15 of his 21 points, and hit two of his three 3-pointers. A Schutt basket closed what was a 14-point Glenbard West lead to 32-25 midway through the second quarter.
The Mustangs have challenged themselves plenty in an ambitious early-season schedule with two games in Indiana and will be at the Team Rose Classic with Glenbard West on Saturday.
This was as big of a challenge as it gets, though.
"It was a great test for us," said Schutt, who shot 3-for-14 from 3-point range against Glenbard West's tough 1-3-1 zone. "They're a really good team. To be able to work against that, and play a team of that length, it definitely prepares us for the rest of the season."
Paxton Warden added 18 points for Glenbard West, stealing an inbounds pass and banking in a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half to cap off a 12-2 run for a 47-29 halftime lead.
As much as Huff impacted his game with his size, he also did by bringing the ball up against Yorkville Christian's pressure. The Hilltoppers more or less negated it, with just two turnovers in the first half while shooting 51% from the floor.
"Braden is a special player and we utilize him in many different roles," Opoka said. "Today we felt that his height and length was good against their run and jump. If he can see over their run and jump we had opportunities at the other end. He is the spearhead of what we're trying to accomplish offensively."
Caden Pierce added 14 points and Ryan Renfro 12 for the Hilltoppers, who have won all but one game by double digits so far this season.
"When a team comes in and pressures us, we look at it that someone is open," Durkin said. "We always try to look for the open man. Being strong with the ball and looking for the open guy leads to early offense."
Dayvion Johnson added 16 points for Yorkville Christian.
"They do everything well, and so the things we don't do well get exposed quickly," Mustangs coach Aaron Sovern said. "They don't have a traditional point guard, but all of them can handle the ball and they're 6-6 and tall, and they shoot the ball well."