Glenbard West seniors win big in final game at Biester Gym
Braden Huff remembers being a grade-schooler and pretending he was on the Glenbard West varsity basketball team and winning championships.
He was hopeful to get an opportunity to play in meaningful games at the end of a season when he got to that level.
Huff and his fellow seniors played their final game at Biester Gym on Friday night -- and took the first step of what they hope is many in the postseason with a decisive 62-26 victory over York to win the Class 4A Glenbard West regional championship.
With significantly more lofty goals for the remainder of its season ahead, Glenbard West relished an opportunity to do something special with a senior group in their last home game as Hilltoppers.
"It's a dream come true, honestly," said the Gonzaga recruit, who finished with 13 points. "Tonight was awesome. To win a regional championship on our home court, with all of these fans here, is really just a dream come true. ... We have been playing on this court since we all came through the youth program here, so while it may be the first step to something bigger for us, it was definitely a special moment."
Glenbard West (32-1) enforced its will in dominant fashion from tip-off. The Hilltoppers outscored York 41-4 in the first half, including an 18-0 second quarter. York made just 2 of 18 shot attempts in the first 16 minutes.
The Hilltoppers finished the first half on a 25-0 run, in which Glenbard West kept York scoreless for a span of 11:14. They also paired the dominant defensive performance with an 8-for-12 shooting performance from behind the 3-point line before halftime.
"I think we just came out really focused on both ends tonight," said Glenbard West senior Bobby Durkin, who scored all of his game-high 16 points in the first half. "I think this is a really special moment for us. There are definitely bigger goals ahead, but for our last game at (Glenbard West) to be a regional championship is surreal."
With a starting lineup that has the smallest player at 6-foot-4, combined with the No. 1 ranking next to its opponent's name, York (17-12) knew it needed a near perfect performance in its third matchup of the season with Glenbard West.
The fact that the Hilltoppers made their first eight shots -- five of which were 3-pointers -- was just too much to overcome. Glenbard West made 11 3-pointers in the victory.
Everything has been talked and written about when it comes to how special of a season Glenbard West is embarking on. With unprecedented expectations for the end of their season, Princeton recruit Caden Pierce and his fellow seniors have focused on what they can control and nothing else.
"We just try to have the same focus each and every day," Pierce said. "We try to block out the outside noise as much as we can. People are going to post this and that, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the 15 or 20 guys in our locker that continue to believe and make us better every day."
"Since the playoffs started, our mindset has been fantastic and our approach has been amazing," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "Our practices have only gotten better ... This group has had these goals and aspirations for a long time and they have accomplished many of them. There are bigger ones at the end of the line, but we aren't looking past Tuesday."
The Hilltoppers will take on the Class 4A Bartlett sectional's No. 12 seed Naperville North at 7 p.m. Tuesday.