(Glenview Announcements) Glenbrook South entered Friday’s game at Niles West nine games below .500, and coming off a loss to its arch-rival, during when one of its starters suffered a season-ending injury.
All signs pointed to a demoralized team showing up for the CSL South contest in Skokie.
But just the opposite happened. The Titans (3-11, 1-3) turned in their most energetic and crisp performance of the season in a 57-36 win over the Wolves (2-10, 0-4).
“I know these guys have been itching to blow the doors open one night,” said GBS head coach Scott Nemecek. “They did it all on their own (Friday night). A lot of teams would have folded up. But these guys haven’t quit on anybody at any time. I’ve issued quite a few challenges to get better. They have accepted their share of criticism, and they’ve rebounded wonderfully.”
The Titans were coming off a 58-51 home defeat to Glenbrook North on Jan. 3, when GBS lost senior Matt Powers to a broken wrist. The Titans also were playing without senior Branden McGarrity.
But the Titans players said they dedicated the performance to their missing teammates.
“Powers and McGarrity are high-energy guys,” said junior Justin Busiel. “We wanted to play like them and do it for them, and it worked,”
Busiel had what Nemecek called a, “breakout game,” scoring a season-high 21 points and grabbing six rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Busiel looked almost unstoppable catching the ball on the perimeter and driving to the hoop for layups.
“I just made it a point to get to the rim every time I could,” Busiel said. “With their pressure on the ball, I felt whoever they put on me, I could get by, and that I could get to the rim whenever I want to. It was a good feeling.”
Busiel scored nine points in the second quarter as the Titans stretched a two-point lead to 12 at halftime. Busiel then scored nine in the third quarter as GBS upped its advantage to 20.
Senior Jamie Nikitas scored 10 points and junior Matt Siegel added nine for the Titans.
Twice in the first half, GBS looked like a football team, as Nikitas completed full-court inbound passes to Busiel, who had sprinted behind the Wolves’ press.
Busiel converted one of the bombs for a layup and was fouled on the other. While the plays sparked the Titans, sluggish Niles West had modify its full-court defense.
Nemecek said he was pleased with how his team shared the basketball, its defensive rebounding and contributions from the bench. Junior Trey Dahiya was solid as Powers’ replacement in the starting lineup.
“By far (this was our best game), start to finish,” Nemecek said. “It was a great treat to watch. The kids were confident, and that confidence grew as the game went on. There are certainly areas we can get better. But this will be a nice film to watch, to say ‘See what you guys are capable of.’ ”
Against Glenbrook North, Nikitas had 19 points and Busiel scored 12. Glenbrook South led 37-36 after three quarters, but struggled down the stretch. It was Glenbrook South’s sixth loss after leading in the fourth.
Glenbrook South will visit Evanston at 7:30 p.m. Friday.