Downers North's 26-0 run does in Glenbard West
Downers Grove North's Jacob Bozeman saw an opening to make a final statement on Friday night.
The senior guard stood at the free-throw line, took a few hard dribbles to his left and glided toward the basket late in the fourth quarter against Glenbard West.
Bozeman rose up over a few players, but his left-handed layup rolled off the rim to miss an opportunity for a 3-point play.
"Yeah, I wanted that," Bozeman said, sporting a big smile.
That was Bozeman's only flaw in a pivotal West Suburban Silver Conference home game. He finished with 8 points to help spark the Trojans to a 49-25 victory over the Hilltoppers.
The Trojans (14-3, 4-2) overpowered the Hilltoppers (11-6, 3-2) by relying on a team-effort to end a two-game losing streak. Jack Stanton led the Trojans with 4 3-pointers for 14 points, Owen Thulin added two treys for 6 points and Jake Riemer poured in 5 points.
"We knew we were quicker than them, so we tried to speed them up because they would try and slow us down," Bozeman said. "My goal was to grab rebounds and push as fast as I could. I was able to get a couple of steals and break loose for a couple of finishes."
The 6-foot-5 Bozeman was instrumental in the third-quarter surge for the Trojans. The Hilltoppers seized a 23-18 lead after a 3-pointer by Dominick Seaney just 54 seconds into the third, but the Trojans started pushing the pace, hitting jumpers and playing tough defense to limit Glenbard West's shot attempts.
The Trojans broke open the game with a 26-0 run, which included 6 points by Bozeman early in the surge.
Bozeman scored 4 straight points late in the third, highlighted by a one-handed slam.
"It was a great game," Bozeman said. "We shut them down after they scored five straight points on us to start the second half. We started battling and sped then up and got them out of their stuff. It led to points."
Indeed, after emptying the bench and sending the large home crowd happy, the Trojans cherished blowing out the Class 4A defending state champion Hilltoppers, mainly due to suffering several tough losses to them over the last two years, including 53-20 and 55-17 last season.
"It was great to see the seniors play pretty well," Downers Grove North coach James Thomas said. "We were getting stops and 50-50 balls and taking turnovers and taking them back to the rim. It felt good to get in that flow. I think they felt terrible after we lost to Lyons and at home to Hinsdale Central. It was good to get a win. Once we got into the flow and that intensity, everything changed in the second half."
The Hilltoppers, who play Lake Park on Saturday, scored just 7 points in the second half after the game was tied 18-18 at intermission. Downers Grove North's combination of height, length, strength and active defense stymied the Hilltoppers in the final two quarters.
Senior guard Benji Zander paced the Hilltoppers with 8 points, hitting a pair of 3s in the second quarter. Seaney finished with 2 3s for 6 points, scoring his team's only field goal of the second half.
"In the first half, I thought we matched their physicality and wore them down," Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. "In the second half, we missed a couple of shots and put us at a disadvantage. They hit some big shots. We couldn't find the basket. We will bounce back. Downers Grove North is a good team. We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming into their home."