Isaiah Green sparks Hillcrest past Lemont

Green is only a sophomore. It’s his first year on varsity for Hillcrest. Most players, even future college players, still are trying to find their way at that point.

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Hillcrest’s Isaiah Green (12) shoots a three against Lemont.

Hillcrest’s Isaiah Green (12) shoots a three against Lemont.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Isaiah Green is only a sophomore. It’s his first season on Hillcrest’s varsity team. Most players, even future college players, still are trying to find their way at that point.

Green, however, already has moved far beyond that. The No. 5 Hawks trailed South Suburban Blue rival Lemont early in the third quarter Friday in Country Club Hills. This was only a few days after Hillcrest had been routed by Kenwood in a televised game at UIC. Something had to change.

‘‘I just thought I would take over,’’ Green said.

So that’s what he did. The strong, athletic guard had three three-pointers, a steal and two assists in a 2½-minute stretch that turned a two-point deficit into a six-point lead.

The Hawks never looked back and went on to beat Lemont 55-47. Green finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was 5-for-8 from three-point range.

‘‘I’m putting in hard work, and it is showing on the court,’’ Green said.

Lemont has its own star sophomore in Nojus Indrusaitis, who finished with 21 points. Indrusaitis had his breakout season last year and is a more established prospect with colleges than Green is.

‘‘Today was my first time playing [Indrusaitis],’’ Green said. ‘‘I knew he was good, but he impressed me.’’

Indrusaitis vs. Green has the makings of a special matchup in the next two seasons. The teams can meet again in a couple of weeks in the Class 3A sectionals.

‘‘They are going to be big battles,’’ Green said. ‘‘Everyone is going to come to see it.’’

Lemont jumped out to a 22-12 lead. Hillcrest pulled to a point by halftime, then Green had his dominant stretch in the third quarter.

‘‘[Green] is a special kid,’’ Hawks coach Don Houston said. ‘‘The sky is the limit for him. He can handle the ball, he can pass it and shoot it.

‘‘[Indrusaitis] is someone you have to pay close attention to. We sent a lot of bodies at him, trying to wear him down. But I kind of like my sophomore, too.’’

Houston has the bodies to wear almost anyone down. Green comes off the bench. Senior Aa’Reyon Munir-Jones and junior Bryce Tillery start in the backcourt. The Hawks are one of the biggest teams in the area, with 6-7 juniors Darrion Baker and Matthew Moore, 6-7 senior Marcus Glover and 6-6 junior Quinten Heady.

All that size made rebounding a difficult task for Lemont. The Hawks had a 36-14 rebounding advantage.

‘‘We knew that if we were going to get stops that rebounding was going to be important,’’ Baker said. ‘‘They are a scrappy team.’’

Hillcrest’s big men aren’t constantly drifting out to the wing. They are old-school rebounders who can dominate a game.

‘‘They appreciate their role,’’ Houston said. ‘‘They know they can get easy baskets and rebound stats, so they actually like playing their position.’’

Baker added 11 points and four rebounds and Glover seven points and eight rebounds for the Hawks (24-3, 13-0), who are continuing their nearly three-decade stranglehold on the conference title.

Matas Castillo added 10 points and Joseph Pender nine for Lemont (22-6, 10-2).

Watch the final minute of Lemont at Hillcrest:

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