Glenbard West’s celebrated length almost met its match. Hillcrest’s aggressive bigs, led by senior Marcus Glover, out-rebounded the Hilltoppers and took them to the limit in the Team Rose Classic at Mount Carmel on Saturday.
But size impacts the game all over the court. Braden Huff, the 6-11 Gonzaga recruit, blocked a Hillcrest shot attempt at the rim in the final seconds to help secure a 51-48 win over the Hawks.
“You don’t want to foul in that situation but we always work on going up strong and using your length to your advantage,” Huff said. “I felt like if I just went up straight and made him shoot over me if he made it so be it. But with my length I felt like I had a pretty good chance of either getting a tip or making it harder to make the shot.”
Bobby Durkin made a pair of free throws with 5.7 seconds left to seal the win. Durkin finished with 13 points.
Huff produced a Player of the Year caliber performance. He had 25 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Huff shot 7 of 12 from the field and 3-for-4 from three-point range.
“[Huff] is an unbelievable basketball player and we want to put him in positions to be successful where he can facilitate and take over with space,” Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. “It was his game to showcase his skill set. If we lost we lost but we wanted to go out with the ball in his hands.”
Cade Pierce scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Hilltoppers (9-0). Ryan Renfrom added five rebounds. Andrew Dauksas and Jack Cardwll both helped Glenbard West survive without starter Paxton Warden, who missed the game with an illness.
“Hillcrest is a good team,” Opoka said. “They’re well coached and they are physical. We had to fight through adversity going in. We grinded one out. The biggest thing I’m proud of is the way the guys finished those last two minutes.”
The Hawks (7-1) have opened the season extremely well after graduating all five starters. Sophomore guard Isaiah Green was huge in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points. Glover had four points and nine rebounds and junior Darrion Baker added 11 points.
“They played their hearts out and they really wanted it,” Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. “Some of the guys are showing some emotions from it. And that’s good, we need that. We need them to have that drive. I’m proud of what they did tonight but we have a long way to go. I’m excited to see the end result of this team.”
Watch the final minute of Glenbard West vs. Hillcrest: