Leyden’s boys basketball team made it look easy during pool play at the Glenbard West Holiday Classic.
The Eagles claimed the title the hard way.
Rallying from a double-digit first-quarter deficit, Leyden flipped the switch en route to a 67-53 victory over West Suburban Gold Conference rival Willowbrook in the tournament championship game Saturday in Glen Ellyn.
The Eagles (10-3) won their first Glenbard West title behind leading scorer Jonny Woolf, who poured in a career-high 29 points while taking over the game in the second quarter.
“The teams we were playing before were a little easier than these guys,” said Woolf, who scored 26 of his points in the final three quarters. “These are our conference opponents and any game in this conference is going to be tough. We really had to turn it up to get this championship.”
Willowbrook (6-7) stormed out of the gate by building a 16-4 lead on Josh Joiner’s 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the first quarter. The gap, however, quickly narrowed over the next eight minutes.
By midway through the third quarter, Leyden held its own double-digit lead.
“They came out and hit us right in the mouth,” said Leyden coach Bill Heisler. “We really took three steps back instead of hitting back. We kind of got our feet back under us and got back in it. We really kept our poise and elevated our game to a level we needed to be at to win a championship.”
Woolf was the definite leader of the charge. His 11 second-quarter points gave Leyden its first lead at 21-20 midway through the frame, and a 6-0 run to close the half put the Eagles ahead to stay.
Leyden’s offense cruised through the second half. Seven-of-12 third-quarter shooting preceded 8-of-11 fourth-quarter shooting. Willowbrook simply couldn’t get enough stops, although a 7-0 run sparked by a pair of Nick Kilianek buckets pulled the Warriors within 42-36.
A 12-2 Leyden run to start the fourth quarter sealed the win and the title. With the Warriors forced to press, the Eagles capitalized with easy transition baskets to maintain their distance.
Anthony Gonzalez especially thrived against the press, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Omar Lozoya, who added 12 points, matched Woolf on the perimeter by knocking down two 3-pointers.
Willowbrook received all but 2 points from its starting lineup. Joiner scored 16 points before fouling out with 4:11 left in the game. Kilianek scored 13 points while Yashua Trent had 12 points, 8 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds.
“You couldn’t ask for a better start, but we couldn’t sustain it,” said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins. “Once they started hitting shots they had us scrambling the rest of the game.”
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