GLEN ELLYN – While the Glenbard West boys basketball team was starting off the 2013-14 season last week in the District 87 tournament, it was the news off the court that had the biggest impact on the Hilltoppers.
After practicing for the first week-and-a-half with the squad, junior Keith Hayes has moved back to Arkansas, where he went to high school his freshman year. A year ago, the guard averaged 19.7 points per game, and his departure leaves a serious void.
"Obviously it is disappointing," Glenbard West coach Tim Hoder said. "He is such a skilled player who scores and creates shots for other people. And he's great in transition and a good free throw shooter at the end of games.
"It's a huge loss for us. He is also a great kid and a great student, so it's a loss in those terms, too."
With Hayes having fit in seamlessly last winter, his teammates are disappointed at his departure, but Hoder said that everyone has realized that they need to move on.
"We are going to have to adapt," he said. "There are now opportunities for other kids. We are playing three sophomores, two of whom are starting. So there are opportunities and other kids have to step up."
Glenbard West came into this week with a record of 1-3. The Hilltoppers beat Glenbard East 67-61 as part of the District 87 tournament while losing 72-59 to Glenbard South and 66-53 to Glenbard North. The squad then fell 77-72 to De La Salle in a crossover with the Hinsdale Tournament on Saturday.
"I think as a whole, Glenbard North by far played the best," Hoder said. "They deserved to be 3-0. The rest of us were 1-2 and that is kind of where we are at. [Glenbard East coach] Scott [Miller's] team is young and we are obviously young."
Corey Davis averaged 14 points per game at the event and was named to the all-tournament team.
"He already does so much," Hoder said. "I'm not sure how much more he can do. He will be one of our leading scorers and he will have to continue doing what he is doing. He can do it all."
Alex Passi, one of the three sophomores making contributions (along with Justin Pierce and Brian Cochrane) averaged 12 points per game.
Next up for the Hilltoppers is the team's West Suburban Silver opener against Lyons Township on Friday.
"They have good guards," Hoder said, "and they always shoot the ball well. They change defenses a little bit and they run a lot of motion stuff. You have to be very good fundamentally on defense to defend them."
Who: Lyons Township at Glenbard West
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: 670 Crescent, Glen Ellyn