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Glenbard West completes dominant run to York championship

Cade Pierce was a crucial part of Glenbard West’s 60-28 win against Lyons in the championship game of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic on Friday at York. 

Glenbard West’s Caden Pierce (3) controls the ball during the game against Lyons.
Glenbard West’s Caden Pierce (3) controls the ball during the game against Lyons.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Cade Pierce was a crucial part of Glenbard West’s 60-28 win against Lyons in the championship game of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic on Friday at York.

The senior had six points, eight assists and four rebounds. But his team’s holiday tournament win didn’t rate very highly on the Pierce family calendar.

“No one from my family is here,” Pierce said. “They are all watching my brother. I’m staying with [teammate Braden Huff’s family]. Clearly they have other priorities.”

Pierce’s older brother Alec is Cincinnati’s top receiver. And the York title game overlapped with the Bearcats’ College Football Playoff game against Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

“I have it taped and I’ve been telling everyone not to mention a score,” Pierce said.

The Hilltoppers dominated the field at York’s 32-team tournament in Alabama fashion. They beat Rolling Meadows 58-40 in the semifinals, Leo 69-46 in the quarterfinals and St. Patrick 67-40 in the second round after a first round bye.

Lyons (11-3) entered on an eight-game winning streak. But the Lions clearly just don’t match up well with the long Hilltoppers. Glenbard West beat Lyons 71-34 on Dec. 3.

“It’s just defensively our length gives a lot of teams problems,” Pierce said. “I don’t think it is Lyons alone. We’ve been getting better and better on our matchups and rotations in the 1-3-1 defense. Our best is yet to come.”

Huff, a Gonzaga recruit, led the Hilltopppers (14-0) with 21 points. Paxton Warden scored 12 and Bobby Durkin added 11.

Glenbard West basketball players react after winning the 2021 Jack Tosh Holiday Classic Tournament Championship game against Lyons.
Glenbard West basketball players react after winning the 2021 Jack Tosh Holiday Classic Tournament Championship game against Lyons.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

“We played some pretty difficult teams in the tournament,” Glenbard West senior Ryan Renfro said. “We were excited to play Bolingbrook. That would have been a good matchup. But it is what it is. We are learning every game”

Lyons knocked off Bolingbrook in the semifinals. Senior guard Tavari Johnson, an Akron recruit, scored 28 against the Raiders. Glenbard West limited him to just two points. Niklas Polonowski led the Lions with 11.

“We really disrupted their passing angles, especially early,” Hilltoppers coach Jason Opoka said. “They turned it over and we capitalized. [Durkin] hit three big threes to get us going. That gave us the confidence and we never looked back.”

Glenbard West has some interesting games looming on its schedule. The Hilltoppers host Larkin, which won the Jacobs tournament, on Jan. 12. They will face Young in a shootout at Benet on Jan. 22.

Opoka said he is close to finalizing a monster matchup with Kenwood. The Broncos knocked off Young in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament title game on Thursday. Kenwood and Glenbard West are generally considered the two best teams in the state.

The contracts aren’t signed yet but the game would take place on Feb. 5 at Wintrust Arena. It’s part of a doubleheader with Simeon vs. Sierra Canyon, CA. The California team is one of the best in the country. It’s led by LeBron James’ son Bronny and Chicago native Amari Bailey.