Glenbard West Class 4A State Title Team In A Historical Perspective!!!!!
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Huff, Pierce, Durkin, Renfro, Warden. Does not matter what order you put them in this starting lineup will be remembered forever in Illinois Basketball Annals. The tour de force from this seasons 37-1 team that did not lose to an Illinois team. Beat 14 teams that were ranked at one time in Big Tim's poll. Some they beat twice and even three times(Lyons Township). From the 80-27 wipeout of Glenbard North in the season opener at the Glenbard District tournament, to the wipeout of Whitney Young(again) in the title game. First State Title by a team from DuPage County since 1909(Hinsdale Central). Yes, you read that right 1909!!!!!! THAT'S 113 YEARS!!!!!!! Historic. This is obviously their first State Title. Coach Jason Opoka told me in the preseason preview he wants Glenbard West to be a West Suburban power. Wants his club to be consistent contenders to make deep runs in the State Playoffs. Average margin of victory this season is 26.8 points per game. Playoffs it was even worse 31.1 points a game. Dominant. Historic. Of course this team was historic size wise too. Starting lineup went 6'4", 6'6", 6'7", 6'9", 6'11". Played a 1-3-1 zone which was hard to score on. They were not slow lumbering big kids. They were athletic, could cover any hole you think you saw in the defense. Long and quick hands, could shoot the gaps to get steals. Pierce on the top of that zone was a terror with his long and quick hands. Durkin would get steals on the wing of the defense and contest jum shots, Renfro would take charges in the middle of the defense and hit the glass. Warden would be at the back of the zone moving rom side to side, contesting shots, and getting deflections. Then you had the 6'11" Huff in the middle doing everything to make life miserable for players driving into the lane. This team would give you a slow death, which is more torturous than a quick one. You would be in the game within 6 to 8 points, then you look up and you're down 20. It was methodical in the worst way for their opponent. A steal and score here, a couple of threes there, a rebound basket over here. A blocked shot to start the break, three perfectly timed passes on the break and a layup, Then another layup and all of a sudden....BALLGAME!!!!! Glenbard West would slowly choke you till you just say "my goodness we are done". They were playing for someone bigger #BK32 which I wrote an article about a few weeks ago: https://www.bigtimshsbballrevue.com/post/top-ranked-glenbard-west-is-playing-for-more-than-most-realize. All five starters will be playing Division One college basketball, Huff(Gonzaga), Pierce(Princeton), Durkin(multiple D1 offers), Renfro(Army), Warden(Illinois-preferred walk-on). Huff is Big Tim's Elite 25 All-Area Player Of The Year. They would regularly have four to five players in double figures every game. The balanced scoring would kill you too. Who's it going to be tonight? Who's it going to be? This is in the opponents head and would make it spin. All can shoot, pass, dribble, rebound, block shots, and steal the ball. This team would just slowly cut your heart out(basketball wise). Siting in the stands you can just see the other team and their fans balloons deflate.
This is what happens when you have a bunch of killas on your team, that play the best brand of team basketball. This group was the epitome of TEAM!!!!!! https://twitter.com/hoopsgbwest/status/1505576634623139849?s=21. Broke IHSA record for Team Three point percentage.
Now the historic context of this team. I can only say I've been in the Chicago Area since 1995, but watched the other great Illinois teams on WGN Superstation. Glenbard West is definitely the best team I've seen in the last 20 years, but here are some teams I've seen that could challenge them:
1997 Manual(Peoria)- The last of their historic four straight titles(1994-1997). Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin, Frank Williams was a junior point guard on this team. They lost one game when Griffin was out with an injury to Carver(Chicago) early in the season. Beat Whitney Young, Thornton Township(Harvey) and Aurora(West) in title game. Young was ranked 10th, Thornton was ranked 2nd. IN AMERICA!!!!! What a murderers row Manual ran through in the State Finals. This squad finished ranked #1 in the country.
1998 Whitney Young(Chicago) - Did not lose to an Illinois opponent. Lost to Lexington(Ky) Catholic in overtime at the Hoops In The Loop at DePaul University in overtime. Star senior Quentin Richardson said in the Chicago Sun Times "We will not lose another game". They alas did not and beat Galesburg in the title game. Had Dennis Gates aka "The Sheriff" because he shut down opposing wings, point guard Cordell Henry as a big time backcourt. Won city and Class 2A State title.
2007 Simeon Career Academy(Chicago)- Lost one game in state to Farragut, but beat the #1 team in the country Oak Hill Academy(VA) as a young man named Derrick Rose introduced himself to the nation on ESPN. Tim Flowers was a monster inside at 6'4". Had Bryant Orange, Kevin Johnson, Brandon Hall were great support for Rose. Won City and Class 2A State Title(last year of two Class system). Beat O'Fallon in title game where Rose DID NOT SCORE A FIELD GOAL!!!!! Smart kid kept giving it to Flowers who had 27.
2012 Simeon Career Academy(Chicago)- Did not lose to an Illinois opponent. Jabari Parker was a junior but they had Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year Steve Taylor(older brother of JJ), Kendrick Nunn who was a junior. Tour de force through their schedule winning City and Class 4A State Title their third of four straight(2010-2013). Beat perviously undefeated Proviso East and Sterling Brown in the title game
2014 Whitney Young(Chicago)- Played a national schedule. Had the number one ranked player in the country in Jahlil Okafor. He had help from fellow seniors Paul White and Miles Reynoles who was a sniper from three point range. Beat Benet Academy(Lisle) in title game.
2015 Stevenson(Lincolnshire)- Lost one instate game to Simeon but went on a tour de force to win the first state title for a team from Lake County. Jalen Brunson dominated the state for three years but especially that year. His running mate Connor Cashaw supported him well. Justin Smith was a talented sophomore who gave athleticism and energy to that team.
I think theses teams could have challenged Glenbard West, but I think they had too much size for Stevenson, Okafor would have given them trouble, but that team did not have enough outside shooting, Simeon of 2012 would have been a real problem, as would Young of 1998. Manual had Griffin and McClain but once again not enough outside shooting. Flowers would have battled hard inside, but Rose did not have the outside shot at the time, but would have scored with his athleticism on the break. This is just my opinion but it's great to be in that conversation. This Glenbard West team is in that conversation as they are with the great King teams of the late 1980's early 1990's, Thornridge 1971, and 1972 teams. The three amigos at Proviso East of 1991 and their underrated 1992 team that went undefeated. It will be a good conversation for years to come.
I will miss watching this team because they were so connected and I saw the potential early. I saw it as early as last June when they wiped out Simeon twice, beat Kenwood Academy with JJ Taylor. They lived up to everything I and some others thought they would, and then some. High school teams and players move on, to college, to other things, and another group comes in. One of my favorite high school teams I've watched in a long time. Special!!!!! I don't think we will see the likes of Glenbard West not just on the court, but off the court as well for a LOOOONNNGGGGG TIME!!!!!! See you guys Hilltoppers you'll always be remembered by me and most that watched this team play.