Huff, Glenbard West too much for Rolling Meadows in Tosh semis
Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich uttered a statement that other coaches who have encountered Glenbard West this season can empathize with.
"Tonight was the first game we felt small," Katovich said. "They're so long. It's on a high school court and they're college-size players."
Glenbard West's starting lineup that averages 6-foot-7, anchored by 6-11 Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff, is indeed unheard of at the high school. That length, coupled with its hard-to-prepare for 1-3-1 zone, can make for uncomfortable nights for opposing shooters.
On Thursday, it helped the Hilltoppers overcome uncharacteristically cold shooting.
Glenbard West held Rolling Meadows to 31% shooting, and Huff scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half of the No. 1-ranked Hilltoppers' 58-40 win in the semifinals of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
The Hilltoppers, in their tournament debut, will face West Suburban Silver rival Lyons in the championship at 2 p.m. Friday. Glenbard West beat Lyons 71-34 on Dec. 3.
"I think our defense stepped up big for us tonight," said Huff, who also had 9 rebounds to lead a commanding 43-19 edge on the boards. "We feel we have some really good shooters and obviously some nights they don't fall and we have to find other ways to win."
Bobby Durkin added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Paxton Warden 8 points and 10 rebounds for Glenbard West (13-0).
The Hilltoppers themselves shot just 38% (19-for-50), and made only 5-of-20 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. But they offset that by holding Rolling Meadows (12-2) to 6-for-30 shooting from the 3-point line.
Rolling Meadows star Cameron Christie, one of the state's top juniors who had averaged 23 points in the first three tournament games, was held to 13 on 5-for-17 shooting.
"Our length is disruptive," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said, "and we did a really nice job of matching their shooters, making it difficult and funneling them into positions where they felt uncomfortable."
Christie made 2 deep 3-pointers in the first quarter, helping Rolling Meadows get out to a 13-12 lead.
But he went scoreless for the entire second quarter and the first six minutes of the third quarter. Orlando Thomas scored a team-high 15 points for Rolling Meadows, but on 5-for-15 shooting, as the Mustangs managed a combined 11 points over the middle two quarters.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight and some of that is Glenbard West, obviously their length and some of that is we didn't make shots we normally do," Katovich said. "They're a good team, that's what they do. They take away what you want to do."
Similar to its quarterfinal win over Leo, it took a bit for Glenbard West to shake free of its opponent.
The teams were tied 17-17 midway through the second quarter, but a Huff basket started a 9-2 run to end the half.
Thomas' second 3-pointer had Rolling Meadows within 28-22 with 5:52 left in the third quarter, but Durkin hit a pullup 3-pointer to spark a 14-2 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.
The way Glenbard West guards, that was ballgame.