Glenbard West senior Justin Pierce is obviously listening when Hilltoppers coach Tim Hoder breaks down film. Pierce throws around stats like “we were 1-8 in one possession games last year” during postgame interviews.
He also completely dominates on the court. The 6-6 senior had 29 points and 17 rebounds in Glenbard West’s 59-53 win over Oak Park-River Forest on Friday in Glen Ellyn.
The win guarantees the Hilltoppers at least a share of the West Suburban Silver conference title. It’s a massive accomplishment. Glenbard West is a football school, the Hilltoppers haven’t won the conference in 43 years.
Pierce and his teammates boldly stated that the conference title was their goal back at the start of the season. That confidence, and Pierce’s dominance, helped Glenbard West (20-2, 8-1) off to a 15-0 start to the season.
“[The conference title] is a pretty big deal for me,” Pierce said. “That was our goal at the beginning of the season. We weren’t planning to go undefeated or planning to be the top seed in the sectional.”
Pierce was able to get to the line without fail against the Huskies (14-10, 6-4). The Hilltoppers didn’t make a jump shot in the entire second half.
“I knew that [Oak Park] was really aggressive defensively so I could make one move and get to the basket,” Pierce said. “[With Alex Passi] in foul trouble. I felt it was my responsibility to run the offense and get to the line.”
Passi had 10 points and four rebounds. He’s Glenbard West’s second scoring option. The 6-2 senior admits he didn’t expect Pierce to become the one-man wrecking crew the area has seen this season.
“I played with him in the summer and he showed a lot of improvement with his shot and his strength, he was dunking over kids,” Passi said. “I didn’t think he would mature and improve as much as he did, it’s great to see.”
Freshman Dashon Enoch led Oak Park-River Forest with 15 points. Senior Breshawn Wilkerson added 14 points and five rebounds. Connor Fuller added 11 points. The Huskies finished with 26 boards, just nine more than Pierce had by himself.
“I had January 8 (the first game against Oak Park-River Forest) and today circled on my calendar knowing these would be the two games that determined the conference,” Pierce sadi.
The Hilltoppers have three conference games left. If they lose all three they will finish tied for first in the conference, just one win will give them the title. So with that goal pretty much in the bag, Pierce and his teammates have set their sights on a bigger accomplishment.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a chance to get that top seed (in the sectional) and make a run to Peoria.,” Pierce said. “There’s no powerhouse. I think we are right in there. We just have to keep getting stops on defense and rebounding.”