ELMHURST – With half its games this season decided by six points or less, Glenbard South is used to late-game pressure.
The Raiders withstood the heat against host Timothy Christian on Jan. 13 as Paris Holmes’ block of a potential tying 3-point try at the buzzer sealed a 56-53 win.
“That’s a good win for us,” Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said. “We had a lot of things stacked against us coming in – finals week, we’re down one of our guards off the bench, and this is a tough place to come and play.
“We were able to keep our composure and finish it out.”
Center Charlie Bair has been a rock in the middle for the Raiders all season, and excelled again with 24 points and 12 rebounds against the Trojans.
“He works hard – there’s not many things in life where he’s going to get outworked,” Hardtke said. “He showed it again tonight.”
Brandon Whiteside (11 points), Peter Jeske (10 points, five rebounds) Kevin Enright (seven points, four assists) and Holmes (three steals) were other standouts for the Raiders, who committed just six turnovers to the Trojans’ 16.
“Six turnovers is amazing,” Bair said. “We executed all our plays well and everybody did their job.
“It was a great team effort. Paris played great defense, when I got in foul trouble [Dylan] Barnick came in and played great defense on their big guy [6-foot-6 Brandon Orange], Whiteside played really well – it was good energy and good defense from the whole team.”
The Raiders, who improved to 8-8 on the season, seemed poised to avoid a nail-biter early in the third quarter as a Whiteside 3-pointer put his team up 34-24. But the Trojans rallied to within 46-44 with 6:16 to play, setting the stage for several clutch plays late by Glenbard South.
Two straight baskets by Bair put the Raiders up 50-44 with 5:06 left. Then with the lead down to 54-51, Enright hit two free throws with 37.8 seconds left to again keep the Trojans at bay. Holmes’ defense on the final try sealed the deal.
“We knew we had to close it out,” Bair said. “We have a tough time with that sometimes, but tonight down the stretch we pushed forward.”
Strong performances and remaining cool under pressure combined for a confidence-building road win at Timothy, and the Raiders added another one when they topped Riverside Brookfield 69-65 on Jan. 17.
Whiteside led the Raiders with 24 points against RB. Bair added 14 and Billy Powers chipped in with nine, while sophomore Tavion Keith had eight points and a steal late in the fourth quarter that led to Enright's two free throws that sealed the game.
“Charlie holds down the fort inside, Brandon does a good job outside, Kevin Enright’s been solid, and [Peter] Jeske’s a sleeper kid capable of scoring double digits,” Hardtke said. “And we’ve been under double digits in turnovers pretty much every game all year, which is heads and tails better than last year.”