DOWNERS GROVE – Willowbrook senior Matt Myers presents an interesting conundrum for opponents.
The 6-foot-4 guard prefers to shoot from the perimeter, which is likely to be his forte at the next level. But he’s just as effective playing in the paint.
That combination proved to be a nightmare for host Downers Grove South on Friday.
Myers went scoreless in the first half, missing his only shot. But he erupted to score all eight of his points and dish out four assists over the final 12 minutes to rally the Warriors to a 68-55 West Suburban Conference Gold Division victory.
“Second half we really noticed the middle was open, so I took advantage of my size because I don’t think their lineup had anyone over 6-3,” Myers said. “Instead of shooting the outside shot, I just kept driving it and taking it in.”
While 6-6 senior center Ethan Schuemer draws the most attention from defenses, crafty players like Myers and point guard Marshawn Phillips make the Warriors go.
“[Myers] is a bigger guard for us and he’s one of our better playmakers, so when you give him the ball in the high post, obviously he’s a scoring threat,” Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins said. “He can create for himself and then he’s good enough to create shots for other guys.”
Downers South (10-9, 2-3) led by as many as seven points in the first half after sinking six 3-pointers. The Mustangs were up 39-34 in the third quarter when Willowbrook's Matas Masys sank a 3-pointer.
That triggered an 18-5 run to end the quarter, which featured the Warriors (15-3, 3-2) switching to a halfcourt trap that disrupted Downers South’s offense.
“We have a call where we’re always trapping, but the guys can make a read and call lit depending on where his guy is going,” Perkins said. “The guys did a good job of making those reads themselves.”
The Mustangs sank just two 3-pointers after intermission, while the Warriors shot 14-for-22. It all started with the defense.
“I think we just played harder,” Myers said. “First half we kind of took them lightly. Second half we realized we had to pick it up and play hard.”
Myers scored on a drive to pull Willowbrook within one. Schuemer, who had a game-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, gave the Warriors a 43-42 lead on a layup off a Phillips feed and Myers followed with a driving layup.
The Warriors never looked back. Phillips never looked anywhere else but in the direction of Myers, who sank a pair of medium-range turnarounds after Downers South had cut the lead to 56-48.
“I can trust anybody on this team, including Matt,” said Phillips, who finished with nine points and three assists. “I knew Matt was going to knock down the shots in the middle so I kept giving him the ball.”
Justin Eagins led Downers South with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, while Blake Thoren and Wesley Hooker added 15 points and 13 points, respectively.
But Hooker, who had a game-high 14 points and five assists, and Thoren each had only one basket in the second half.
Myers, on the other hand, was 4-for-4 in the second half. He’s being recruited by Roosevelt,Carroll and Lewis.
“My role is to be a playmaker, get the ball and make plays, get stops on defense and be a presence in the paint, anything to get the win,” Myers said. “And we really needed this win.”