Braden Huff sparkles as Glenbard West knocks off Young

The Glenbard West fans were raucous and took over the sold-out gym in the same way that their star player, Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff, took over on the court.

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Glenbard West’s Braden Huff (34) reacts with fans during the game against Young.

Glenbard West’s Braden Huff (34) reacts with fans during the game against Young.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Glenbard West and Young began the season ranked No. 1 and 2 in the Super 25. The Hilltoppers have lived up to the early hype, rampaging through their schedule undefeated.

The Dolphins have battled injuries and taken their lumps playing a national schedule. The matchup Saturday in the When Sides Collide Shootout at Benet has been circled on the calendar for months by high school basketball fans in the area.

The gym was sold out, and the Glenbard West fans were raucous and took over the gym in the same way that their star player, Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff, took over on the court.

“We were really excited for this one,” Huff said. “Whitney Young is a great team. In the past, they’ve just been an awesome program. I’m always looking for my shot but also trying to find that balance and take what the defense gives me.”

Huff scored 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the top-ranked Hilltoppers beat No. 6 Young 74-59.

Glenbard West hasn’t received much respect nationally, regularly popping up behind Kenwood, Simeon and Young in the rankings. That’s what typically happens when an unknown school emerges. The national scene is all about brand names.

“I don’t think there was necessarily a chip on our shoulder,” Huff said. “We were just really excited to play them. With last year, just playing conference teams, we didn’t really get to test how good we were. So we aren’t taking it for granted this year.”

The atmosphere was tremendous, and Huff was the star attraction, dominating a team with two Division I bigs. He scored 10 points in the first quarter to set the tone.

“[Huff] has been working on his positioning and his footwork throughout the summer and into this year,” Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. “Today was a great opportunity to display that on a big stage.”

The Hilltoppers (22-0) led 28-13 midway through the second quarter and by 11 after three quarters. They opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to put the game away.

“There were a few people questioning whether we could play with those top teams in the state,” Glenbard West senior Cade Pierce said. “Beating a team of this caliber really shows we can play with anybody.”

Pierce matched Huff’s aggressiveness. The 6-6 senior is headed to Princeton to play golf but threw down a dunk in the fourth quarter worthy of a high-major college basketball player. He finished with 25 points and was 8-for-10 from the field.

“It was a phenomenal event,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “I just wish we had played better. They shot the ball incredibly well today. They are good, and they play well.”

Miami recruit AJ Casey led the Dolphins (14-7) with 20 points and seven rebounds, and NIU recruit Xavier Amos added 17 points.

“AJ has played well in the last few events,” Slaughter said. “We need some other people to come join him, and unfortunately we didn’t have that today.”

Watch the final minute of Glenbard West vs. Young:

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