At halftime of Wednesday's Class 3A Glenbard South regional semifinal, the host team's locker room was buzzing.
"It was probably the most enthusiastic locker room we've had all year," Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said. "The kids had some confidence going, they were having fun. It was one of those where we almost didn't want to come in here, we wanted to keep it going."
No. 15 seed Glenbard South (9-18) had led No. 1-seeded Orr (25-3), ranked second in Class 3A by the Associated Press, most of the second quarter and at halftime trailed by just a point.
It didn't last, however, with the visitors from Chicago grinding out a 57-42 victory in Glen Ellyn. Orr will play the winner of tonight's semifinal between Montini and Nazareth.
"They're a pretty good ballclub," Orr coach Lou Adams said of Glenbard South. "Their record doesn't indicate how good they are. Well-coached. They're going to run their offense. We just knew we had to get after them. We were a little sluggish today because we haven't been playing. We should be all right for the next game, though."
The second half was a different story. Orr scored eight quick points, then held the ball most of the remaining 5:45 to try to coax Glenbard South out of its zone defense.
"We knew that when they decided to go man, it would be tough on them," Adams said. "... We knew that once we pulled them out, that we were quicker than them and could get around them."
"To be honest with you, going into a zone I kind of thought they were going to do that in the first half," Hardtke added. "We were able to hang in there. They didn't really have that opportunity. As soon as they took the lead, that gave them the upper hand, and at that point we just wanted to try to shorten the game and see what we could do, if we could stay close to them down the stretch."
Orr outscored the Raiders 10-0 for the third quarter, and the Raiders could get no closer than eight points in the fourth, the last time on a pair of John Marks free throws with 2:07 to play.
Glenbard South got off to a rocky start in the game, Orr taking a 6-0 lead. But junior Alex Jeske hit a 3-pointer to give the Raiders some confidence, and classmate Chaun Rickette added a pair of free throws. The Raiders took their first lead at 11-9 on a Rickette pullup jumper and led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter when senior Tim Marshall took a feed from sophomore R.J. Ruiz strong to the basket.
"We just kept our composure," Jeske said. "Coach just told us they couldn't get out on runs. We had to keep our composure, we kept playing, started handling the pressure, making shots, fought our way back."
When Mark Murbach opened the second quarter with a three-point play, the Raiders' lead was five points, their biggest of the game.
"The kids didn't give up," Hardtke said. "We worked hard all year, preaching it, just playing hard and playing four quarters. We decided we were going to stand in there tonight, and we did."
Jeske led the Raiders with 12 points, and Rickette and Marks each added 8. Armani Ousley came off the bench to lead Orr with 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the second quarter to keep Orr close.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.