Glenbrook South pushes through pressure to hand Glenbrook North its first CSL South loss
Like the custodial crew that rolled the baseline bleachers into position to handle the capacity crowd at the Titan Dome last Friday, Glenbrook South's Gaven Marr knew the boys basketball game against Glenbrook North was a big deal.
"Everyone's bringing energy, both crowds, both teams, both coaches. Everyone's really fired up going into it, and for the Glenbrooks this game really means a lot to us," said the Titans senior forward.
It was evident in the home team's play, a 63-48 victory Jan. 6 in Glenview to deal the Spartans their first loss in the Central Suburban League South.
The margin didn't seem that wide, and it felt like the game was never truly decided until Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston and Spartans counterpart Quin Hayes took out their starters with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Twice Glenbrook North (15-2, 3-1) pulled within 6 points in the third quarter. Glenbrook South (14-4, 2-2) fought through the pressure.
"When we have leads like that, one of our biggest weaknesses throughout the season has kind of been pulling away and finishing games, putting teams away. We really pushed for that this game, and we extended that lead and we held it, so it was able to work out," said Marr, who scored a team-high 21 points.
The Titans sent four players into double figures, with R.J. Davis adding 15 points plus 8 rebounds, Josh Wolf scoring 11 with 3 steals, and 6-foot-7 Nick Taylor scoring 10 points with 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
"I think their length hurt us," said Glenbrook North coach Quin Hayes, who saw Glenbrook South's 6-foot-4 Griffin Dahiya come off the Spartan bench to play solid defense.
"We couldn't convert the easy ones and they made shots and we couldn't make any shots. Sometimes it's that simple," Hayes said.
Glenbrook North's Ryan Cohen led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Guard Josh Fridman scored 16 points, but the Titans held the rest of Glenbrook North's talented cast to no more than 3 points.
"When you only have two guys score, you know you're going to be in trouble," Hayes said.
"Our game plan was we wanted to make sure that any shots that Cohen got and any shot that Fridman was getting was going to be pressured," Ralston said. "Make them take tough shots, and then we wanted to make sure their other 3-point shooters didn't get clean looks, and I think by and large we stuck to that game plan pretty well."
"Kind of just enforcing our principles," Marr elaborated, "like switching (on defense) - when to switch, when not to switch, do we want to keep someone's matchup. I think this game we were extremely focused on their personnel and sticking true to what we said going into the game."
Defense was tight across the board. Glenbrook North forced 14 turnovers and Glenbrook South forced 13, an overall total that included 7 offensive fouls.
"Offensively they do a lot of good stuff, keep us on our heels. We've just got to talk through everything. I think we did that, and we came through," said Davis, who absorbed one Spartan charge, as did Marr during a key stretch of the third quarter.
After Taylor used multiple moves in the post to tie the early score 5-5 and Wolf followed with a steal and 3-point basket at 3:35 of the first quarter, Glenbrook South never trailed.
Behind 30-21 at halftime, Cohen and Fridman rallied Glenbrook North before Glenbrook South stemmed the momentum.
At 2:15 of the third Cohen scored on a hard drive to the basket to trim Glenbrook South's lead to 37-31.
Marr answered with 3 from the top of the key, then took an offensive charge. Davis canned another 3 to give Glenbrook South a 43-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
"We kind of had a tough start to the conference," Davis said. "They've had a good start, really. We knew we were capable of beating a lot of teams. We just had to work a couple kinks out at the beginning in the season. I think we're finally starting to hit our stride."
The closest the Spartans came in the fourth quarter was 54-42 on Cohen's third and final 3-pointer with 4 minutes remaining. Wolf and Taylor responded with baskets to build the lead back up.
It was Glenbrook South's ninth win in 10 games.
"If we can compete like this I think we can compete with every team that's in our sectional," Ralston said. "It's can we put together complete games. Tonight we did."
On Saturday, while Glenbrook South was inactive Glenbrook North beat a solid St. Ignatius team 65-57 at the Steve Pappas Shootout at DePaul Prep. In that game, Cohen scored the 1,000th point of his high school career.
"We came out on Saturday and looked like a completely different team," Hayes said. "I was really proud of our boys' ability to bounce back."