CHAMPAIGN – Rob Brost did a few things out of the box to give his Bolingbrook team a chance to compete with Glenbard West Friday.
The Raiders practiced with pool noodles in guys’ hands to simulate the Hilltoppers’ length. Bolingbrook played zone for all but one possession, which it almost never does. Some things, though, a coach cannot prepare for.
“When [Bobby] Durkin is hitting shots like that, they’re almost impossible to beat,” Brost said.
Glenbard West’s 6-foot-7 senior guard made seven three-pointers, matching a Class 4A state finals record, and scored 30 points.
Durkin’s sizzling shooting, in large part, allowed Glenbard West to pull away from what was a close game for nearly a half for a 77-47 win in the Class 4A state semifinal at State Farm Center.
Durkin, who made 7 of his 12 3-point attempts, tied former Stevenson star Jalen Brunson, Evanston’s Blake Peters and Fremd’s Kyle Silwa for the 4A record.
“It was definitely a super cool experience,” Durkin said with a wide smile at mention of the record. “Teammates were able to get me open and I was able to knock down shots that were given to me.”
None were bigger than Durkin’s three-pointer midway through the second quarter which ended a long possession that Bolingbrook defended well, but opened the floodgates.
It extended what was a four-point game, and started a 12-0 run that ended the half with Glenbard West in command up 38-22. Durkin scored the first seven points of the run, and scored 17 of his 30 in the first half.
“We were a little stagnant offensively in the first half for moments, but it’s just our willingness to keep moving the ball, and unselfishness trying to get the best shot,” Durkin said. “On that possession, one more pass to me and I was open and I was able to knock it down. After that we got some confidence and it opened things for us.”
Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff added 20 points and hit three of Glenbard West’s 13 threes, Princeton commit Caden Pierce had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists and Ryan Renfro had eight points and 10 rebounds for Glenbard West (36-1). Michael Osei-Bonsu had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Mekhi Cooper 14 points for Bolingbrook (30-7), which had a 16-game winning streak snapped.
The teams’ 18 combined three-pointers matched a Class 4A tournament record.
The Hilltoppers, No. 1 all season, will play Young, which rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Barrington 51-47 earlier Friday, for the program’s first state title at 7 p.m. Saturday. Several of the Hilltoppers’ seniors were on an eighth-grade team that won a middle school state title.
The culmination of that tourney ends Saturday night in Champaign.
“We’ve finally got to the point where we can finish what we started and set out to do back in sixth or seventh grade, when we talked about it,” Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said. “In eighth grade we met about it and tomorrow we have an opportunity to obtain it. It’s really special.”
It took Glenbard West time to find its rhythm against Bolingbrook’s zone. Pierce air-balled a three on the first possession, and the next two ended in turnovers. Meanwhile, Cooper himself hit two of his four threes for Bolingbrook and scored eight of his 14 points in the quarter.
But Huff followed with two three-pointers and Durkin hit the first of his seven for a 17-11 lead after a quarter.
It eventually snowballed to Glenbard West’s sixth straight postseason win by at least 26 points.
“I don’t know if it surprised us that they played a zone, we were prepared for both, but as we stayed in it we started to figure it out and got better shots, and obviously Bobby was on fire,” Huff said. “We continued to find him. It’s a recipe for success.”
Much of that recipe for success is ball movement that few teams can match. The Hilltoppers had assists on 20 of their 29 made baskets.
“The ball just pops,” Opoka said. “They know exactly one step ahead where they’re getting the ball. The ball finds them, and it finds them in the shooting pocket. That’s a credit to how hard they’ve worked.”
“They’re obviously a great team – they have made it to a state championship for a reason and they’re also obviously a lot better than when we played them in January and they were missing one of their starters so they’re a completely new team and they showed it tonight,” Pierce said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.