"We're taking it one game at a time" might be the most familiar adage in sports, but it's one that Glenbard East is taking to heart this postseason.
The Rams took care of business in their Class 4A regional opener at Willowbrook on Tuesday night, easily getting past Wheaton North 80-57. Now Glenbard East can shift its attention to the regional title game Friday night, when the Rams will face the winner of Wednesday's Wheaton Warrenville South-Bolingbrook semifinal matchup.
Glenbard East coach Scott Miller said the Rams, who tied a school record for victories with the win over Wheaton North, have been able to stay focused on each game this season and not look ahead.
"That's a credit to these guys," Miller said. "With this one behind us, we're focusing in on Friday night, whether it be Bolingbrook or Wheaton (Warrenville) South. That's the biggest game of the year."
Lee Skinner, who led three Rams (25-1) in double figures with 18 points, has a preference as to whom he'd like to play - Bolingbrook, which ended Glenbard East's season last year with a 61-57 victory in the regional final.
"Personally I'm hoping we play Bolingbrook," said Skinner, who added 9 rebounds. "That would be a good game, but then again, whoever we play, we're just going to bring it."
Coming off a hard-fought 84-81 overtime win over Willowbrook on Monday night, the Falcons faced the daunting task of having to play the top-seeded Rams - to whom they lost last Wednesday in a DuPage Valley Conference contest - twice in less than a week.
"We knew they were going to be tired," said Rams point guard Zach Miller, who had 5 assists and 5 steals. "They had an overtime game, an emotional up-and-down kind of a game, so we wanted to take it to them early because we knew their legs would be a little tired.
"That's what we tried to do at the beginning. We pressured them and got some deflections and some steals and that's what got the game going to the tempo we wanted to get to."
The Rams got a little scare early in the game when Miller crashed to the floor and remained down for a few minutes after taking an elbow to his nose and mouth.
"I've got a little bit of a headache, but I'll be all right," he said.
The Rams sprinted out to a 20-5 first-quarter lead, but Wheaton North outscored Glenbard East 12-6 over the first four minutes of the second quarter - a run that was capped by two Nick Barry free throws - to make it 26-17.
But the Rams rattled off 6 straight points from there, then surged ahead and put the game out of reach by intermission, 40-21. Johnny Hill tallied 10 of his 16 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Devin Parks finished with 12.
Wheaton North coach Jim Nazos praised seniors Mike Small, Matt Matosian, Mike Haney and Matt Nelson afterward.
"We struggled at times (tonight)," said Nazos, whose team finished 9-19. "But more than this game, the things I'll take away (from this year) is that it's sad I'll never get to coach these four seniors again. The game is the game; it was what it was. I'm just thrilled to have coached them."
Barry led the Falcons with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Jordan Wayhard and Ed Norris chipped in with 10 and 9 points, respectively.