GLEN ELLYN – Out for the season with a knee injury, Kendall Walch started Thursday on Senior Night and was allowed to score the game’s first basket.
That was just one of many memorable moments for Glenbard West, which rattled off its fourth consecutive win with a 40-16 West Suburban conference crossover win over a short-handed Downers Grove South team.
The Hilltoppers (15-8) continued to be spurred on by their stingy defense, having now held 12 of their last 14 opponents to under 40 points. The home team forced 14 Mustangs turnovers in the first half and finished with 15 steals.
Loyola-Chicago soccer recruit Emmie Roberts led the way with four steals, while adding seven rebounds and four points.
“These last four or five games have been crazy,” said Roberts of her team, which has yielded just 111 total points during the current winning streak. “We aren’t the biggest team so defense is really important to us. We play as a team and our communication really helps us. We’ve always been a talking team, on and off the court.
“I’ve always wanted to win on Senior Night. I’ve been on this team for three years, in the program for four. So this is special. I’ve been with a lot of these girls since sophomore year and everyone wanted it (tonight). It was a team game.”
Indeed, Glenbard West received contributions from the entire roster. Nine players registered steals and seven entered into the scoring column. Julia Benjamin scored a game-high nine points, which included a beyond half-court buzzer beater to give her team a 12-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sophia Brown scored all eight of her points during a 17-0 run to start the third quarter and the junior added four rebounds and three steals.
“It’s cool that we have so many different players who can contribute,” Brown said. “It makes it fun to come every day. All of our players can score which makes for a well-rounded team. And the most important thing has been our defensive effort. We’ve been working a lot on our defense in practice and we’ve improved a ton.”
Allie Murphy scored eight points and Kennedy Brandt also had seven for the Hilltoppers, who took a 19-8 margin into halftime. Tess Farnum, who along with fellow senior Emily Miranda also started, had five rebounds.
“Defense is something we talk about every day,” said Glenbard West coach Kristi Faulkner, whose team now has three four-game winning streaks this winter. “That’s one thing we can always control, our defensive effort and energy. We have made that a point of emphasis in practice. And then this is also a really selfless team. They enjoy passing and sharing the ball and it’s been really fun to see other players gaining more confidence.”
Downers Grove South (7-11), which has had its share of obstacles to overcome this season, was missing five players on Thursday, including 6-1 starting center Na’Kiyah Robertson. After starting off the year with four losses at the York Thanksgiving tournament, the Mustangs won six of their next nine games. But they then went 19 days without playing a game due to COVID issues and since returning to the court, have lost four of five.
Emily Petring had six points and 14 rebounds for the visitors and Allison Jarvis also scored six.
“Our schedule is tough,” said DGS coach Lyndsie Long, with her team also falling to 17-3 Willowbrook and 21-2 Naperville North during this recent stretch. “But at some point, you have to put the ball in the basket. We need to have more confidence with it, that is three-fourths of it. We are getting looks but none of them are falling.
“Without our post players, we told them that everyone was needed to rebound. Emily is super athletic and super aggressive as well so it’s great that she got 14 rebounds.”