LOMBARD – The stark contrast from a year ago for Glenbard East’s boys basketball team was apparent in the Rams’ trip to West Aurora last Friday.
Last year, the Rams won two exciting games that went down to the buzzer against the Blackhawks in a pair of games that ultimately decided the DuPage Valley Conference title. In this year’s first meeting, West Aurora won by 33 points.
“We knew going in it was going to be a little bit of a struggle early on just because we were so young,” Glenbard East coach Scott Miller said. “There is significant growth with this group, which is the exciting part. Every game we’ve gotten a little bit better.”
The Rams are 1-5 heading into tonight’s DVC game at Naperville Central. It’s not the kind of start the team was hoping for, but growing pains are a part of the process for this squad.
Miller argued his team’s improvement in recent games has been hidden by the fact that they’ve played quality opposition in Hinsdale Central, Rich South and West Aurora.
“We’re playing better teams, too,” he said. “West Aurora is good. That’s a tough place to play for anybody.”
The Blackhawks led by three points late in the first half before making a big run to close the half as they went on to win 64-31. Miller said playing in the charged atmosphere at West Aurora’s gym was a learning experience for many of the team’s younger players.
The Rams may be in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season. West Aurora and Naperville Central are expected to be among the contenders in the DVC. The next DVC game is Dec. 20 against Glenbard North, which is off to a 4-1 start, and after that is the competitive Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York.
Miller’s task is to keep the team from getting down on themselves after the slow start.
“I think there’s a little bit of frustration,” the coach said. “We keep stressing to them that they need to keep their eye on the prize.”
On the upside, Jaron Hall has been starring for the Rams. The senior guard is the only starter back from a year ago and is playing like it. In addition to putting up big points, the talented guard is taking on a more multi-dimensional role this season.
“Jaron is playing out of his mind,” Miller said. “He had a bad game against West [Aurora]. We knew that was going to happen at some point if he wasn’t able to shoot well.”
Next game: Glenbard East at Naperville Central
What: DuPage Valley Conference game
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: 440 W. Aurora Ave., Naperville