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Warriors beat Proviso East in conference opener to move to 5-0 overall

By Chris Fox

The Willowbrook boys basketball team opened its West Suburban Gold Conference season with Friday’s 59-53 victory over Proviso East in Villa Park. The Warriors, who began their season by winning four straight games and claiming the title at Stagg High School’s Thanksgiving tournament, improved their overall record to 5-0.
Playing their first home contest of the season, the Warriors built a 34-24 halftime lead over the Pirates. Willowbrook maintained its lead throughout the second half. Its advantage stood at 42-33 at the end of the third period.
The Warriors held a comfortable 58-42 lead with about 90 seconds to play. Proviso East went on an 11-1 run in the closing seconds to narrow the final deficit.
Junior Ethan Schuemer led Willowbrook’s balanced offensive attack with 14 points. Schuemer, who has been the team’s high scorer in four of its first five games, also pulled down a team-leading 17 rebounds. Junior Marshawn Phillips added 13 points, highlighted by a fourth-quarter burst of seven points in about 60 seconds. Phillips, who is in his first season as a Warrior after transferring from Hinsdale South, made a basket to give his team a 51-40 lead with just under four minutes to play. He added another field goal about 30 seconds later to give Willowbrook a 53-42 lead. Moments later, Phillips buried a 3-point shot to extend the cushion to 56-42 with about 2:50 remaining.
Sophomore Matas Masys contributed 12 points, including three shots from 3-point range. His final 3-pointer, which came moments after Proviso East missed a dunk shot, gave Willowbrook a 42-31 lead with about two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Junior Matthew Myers, who did not miss a shot all evening, provided nine points. Myers made all three of his shots from the field. He also sank all three of his attempts from the free-throw line.
Senior Freddie Clay added seven points, while junior Sikander Zafar provided four points, including an offensive rebound and basket that gave Willowbrook a 46-35 lead with about 5:30 left in the game. Schuemer opened the Warriors’ fourth-quarter scoring about 30 seconds earlier when he delivered a two-handed, breakaway dunk that pushed his team to a 44-35 advantage.
“I think we’ve got a lot of weapons, so we’re going to try to utilize them all,” said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins in noting the team’s multi-dimensional performance. “We’ve got a really athletic bunch this year. It’s hard to stop us. It’s still early in the season. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but that was a huge win for us.”
“We know Proviso East is a fast team; we knew we really had to go hard the whole game,” added Schuemer, who was named the most valuable player at Stagg’s Thanksgiving tournament. “I definitely think we’ve got a good shot at winning the conference [championship] this year.”
“I was off the first two or three quarters; I had to pick it up in the fourth,” said Phillips in describing his fourth-quarter hot streak. “Coach [Perkins] told me not to stop shooting.”
The Warriors will return to their home court for this Friday’s conference home game against Addison Trail.

Warrior wrestlers win see-saw battle with Leyden

By Chris Fox

The Willowbrook wrestling team began its West Suburban Gold Conference schedule with a hard-fought dual meet against Leyden on Dec. 1 in Villa Park. The Warriors won the dual’s final three matches to pull out a 39-27 victory.
Senior Miguel Portilla’s pin in the 132-pound match secured six points for Willowbrook in the overall score and moved the Warriors into a 24-21 lead over the Eagles. Leyden evened the match at 24-24 with a 6-1 victory over Willowbrook senior Dom Ranieri in the 138-pound match.
The Eagles then took a 27-24 lead with a 7-4 victory over freshman Tommy Iozzo in the 145-pound contest. Senior Oliver Elena regained the lead for Willowbrook when he pinned his opponent in the 152-pound match. Elena’s victory put the Warriors ahead 30-27 with two matches remaining. Willowbrook junior Silver Edosio won a thrilling 9-8 triple-overtime victory in the 160-pound match to give the Warriors a 33-27 edge. Edosio trailed his opponent 8-7 in the closing seconds of the third overtime before earning two late points to claim the victory.
Willowbrook junior Tyler Guerrero needed only 37 seconds to pin his Leyden opponent in the 170-pound match, which closed out the dual.
The Warriors earned their first 18 team points of the dual on pins by junior Jack Jessen (in the 182-pound match), freshman Zach Seymore (106) and junior Andrew Cuellar (113). Jessen, who recently made a verbal commitment to wrestle at Northwestern University, improved his overall record to 13-0 when he pinned his Leyden opponent. As a freshman, Jessen earned second-place honors in the 170-pound weight class at the IHSA Class 3A individual state meet. As a sophomore, he placed third in the 182-pound class at the state meet.
Seymore also moved his season record to 13-0 with his win against the Eagles, while Cuellar and Guerrero both moved to 12-1 with their respective pins.
Willowbrook improved its overall dual-meet record to 11-2 with its conference win over Leyden. The Warriors began their season with a pair of losses (to Stagg and Reavis) at Reavis on Nov. 22. The Warriors then won all 10 of their dual meets to win the first-place title at the Vernon Hills Invitational. Willowbrook won five matches in each day of competition at the event, which took place Nov. 25-26.
“It’s a good way to start the season off and get a lot of matches,” said Willowbrook coach Brandon Murphy shortly after the victory in Vernon Hills. “We are a pretty young team. As the season goes on we are going to get better and better. I feel like the team is really going to come together by the middle of the season.”

Willowbrook girls split their first two conference contests

By Chris Fox

The Willowbrook girls basketball team began its West Suburban Gold Conference season with a 50-46 win over Leyden on Nov. 29 in Villa Park. The Warriors slipped to 1-1 in the conference standings four days later when they dropped a 54-26 home game to Downers Grove South. Saturday’s loss to the Mustangs moved the Warriors’ overall record to 2-6.
Willowbrook freshman Shannon Knudtson led all scorers in the conference opener against Leyden by pouring in 17 points. Knudtson made seven of nine shots from the field, including both of her attempts from 3-point range. She made one of three shots from the free-throw line.
Sophomore CeCe Lizasuain, who made eight of 10 free throws, provided 14 points and a team-leading eight rebounds against Leyden. Sophomore Hanna Konrath, who made six of nine shots from the foul line, finished the game with 10 points.
Willowbrook led the Eagles 32-21 at halftime, but Leyden rallied in the third quarter to cut the Warriors’ lead to 33-32. Willowbrook held a 41-37 edge by the end of the third period.
“We’re really young,” said Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell after the victory over Leyden. “We have two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Hopefully they’ll grow up fast. We’re going to take some lumps, but as long as they’re learning and having fun, we’re in good shape.”
Sophomore Katelyn McCann scored a team-leading nine points for the Warriors in Saturday’s loss to Downers Grove South. Konrath added seven points.
Willowbrook opened its season with a 49-28 loss to Glenbard North on Nov. 15. The Warriors then went to Marist High School’s Thanksgiving tournament, where they won one of five games.
Senior Kelssie Kraabel scored 21 points in Willowbrook’s one win at the tournament—a 53-30 win over Shepard. Kraabel suffered an injury in the opening moments of her team’s final game of the event—a 44-37 loss to Rich Central. Harrell said he expects Kraabel to return to action sometime in January.

Rams fall to 0-6 following a pair of non-conference losses


The Glenbard East boys basketball team dropped to 0-6 following Saturday’s 69-34 home loss to Chicago’s Perspectives High School of Technology. Senior Josh Chriske scored a team-high seven points for the Rams, who trailed Perspectives 36-23 at halftime and 55-25 at the end of the third quarter. Freshman Alijah Nelson added five points, while senior Devin Fisher, senior Orlando Kimbrough and junior Korvante Davis each contributed four points.
In its previous contest, Glenbard East lost 67-62 at Oswego East on Nov. 30. Davis made three 3-point shots and scored a team-leading 16 points for the Rams, who trailed Oswego East 52-48 with one quarter to play. Fisher and Kimbrough added 15 and 12 points respectively. Senior Jimmy Fairbairn-Vargas made three shots from 3-point range in the opening half to provide nine points. The Rams drained 10 shots from behind the 3-point line. Kimbrough made a pair of 3-pointers, as did Chriske, who made two long-range shots in the second quarter and finished the game with six points.
The Rams will open their Upstate Eight Valley Conference season with this Friday’s home game against South Elgin.

Rams’ wrestling team begins its season with 13 straight victories

The Glenbard East wrestling team won five straight dual meets to win the championship at Saturday’s inaugural Rams Wrestling Invite in Lombard. The five wins gave the Rams an overall season record of 13-0.
Glenbard East opened its Upstate Eight Valley Conference schedule with Thursday’s 42-23 home victory over West Aurora. The Rams improved their conference mark to 2-0 one night later when they crushed East Aurora 71-9 in Lombard.
The Rams began their season with victories over Plainfield North, Huntley and Bolingbrook at Plainfield North’s quad event on Nov. 23. Three days later, Glenbard East defeated Wheaton Warrenville South, Freeport and Kaneland at Kaneland’s quad in Maple Park.
Four Rams posted individual records of 12-1 through the team’s first 13 dual meets. Those wrestlers include senior Nick Donovan of the 120-pound weight class, junior Nick Guthrie (126), sophomore Alex Posada (132) and senior Brandon Raines (285). Senior Scott Szabo (138) began the season with an 11-2 record, while freshman Reese Martin (113) built a perfect 10-0 mark through the team’s first 13 meets. Junior Cole Martin (152) held a 10-1 record through Saturday’s invitational, while senior Matt Leonard (160), junior Alec Wolff (170) and senior Zach Netchin (195) each owned 10-3 records.
Other Rams contributing to the team’s red-hot start to the season include junior James McNicholas (182), whose record stood at 9-4 through Saturday; senior Ondrewal Langworthy (145), who held an 8-1 record; and sophomores Jesus Lopez (220) and Isaac Villareal (106), who posted records of 8-5 and 7-6, respectively.
The Rams will compete in this Friday’s conference home meet against South Elgin.
The dual meet, which is part of a wrestling/boys basketball doubleheader between the two schools, will begin at 5:45 p.m. The basketball game will start at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Super Bowl champion inspires Falcons to their own Super Bowl win

The Lombard Falcons’ 83-pound NFC Gold football team won a Bill George Youth Football League (BGYFL) championship on Nov. 13. The Falcons beat the previously unbeaten Palatine Panthers 19-6 in the title contest, which was played during the BGYFL’s Super Bowl Weekend at Benedictine University in Lisle. The Falcons finished their season with an overall 10-1 record. They won 10 straight games after losing their season-opening contest to Lyons Township. A few days before the championship game, football legend Dan Hampton—a member of the Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl XX championship team—visited the Falcons during one of their practices. Hampton, a standout defensive tackle who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, gave an inspirational speech to the Falcons. Hampton referred to a speech Walter Payton gave to his Bear teammates before Super Bowl XX on Jan. 26, 1986. Payton noted how he had achieved numerous individual records, he had yet to reach the goal of being a champion. Speaking to the young Falcons, Hampton said they should all have the same goal in their own title game—to be champions. Hampton also told the Falcons to be thankful for their physical abilities and to challenge themselves to be the best players they could be. The members of the Falcons’ championship team are: Santino Florio, Jonathan Yarusso, Nick Irion, Cooper Conliss, Vince Irion, Will Hoffmann, Sulaiman Saeed, Nicky Castaldo, Will Crosse, Mateo Villalvazo, Nico Castaldo, Ryan McGarry and Jimmy Fitzpatrick.