Glenbard West wins defensive battle over Wheaton North

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Glenbard West wins defensive battle over Wheaton North

By Mike Clark
Season Pass

Maybe the best defense is a good defense and a bad field.

It seemed to work that way Saturday at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn, where No. 1 Glenbard West averaging 40 points a game met No. 12 Wheaton North, which came in scoring 36 points a game.

They combined for just a single field goal a 32-yarder by Glenbard West's Hayden Lekacz early in the second quarter as the Hilltoppers grounded out a 3-0 win in a Class 7A quarterfinal.

Glenbard West (12-0) moves on to the IHSA semifinals for the first time since it finished second in the state in 2009 and will play Lake Zurich next week. Wheaton North (10-2) was seeking its first semifinal berth since 2002.

Both teams struggled to stay on their feet as the morning rains turned Duchon's grass field into a mud pit.

"It was like playing in Vietnam during the war," said Glenbard West senior Joe Marconi, who had one of his team's three interceptions. "It was so muddy it was like you were playing in the trenches. I've never played on it when it was this bad before."

The offenses weren't helped by being short-handed. Wheaton North was missing half of its quarterbackreceiver duo with Clayton Thorson out with a broken collarbone suffered last week. Glenbard West lost running back Scott Andrews to a sprained right ankle, though he still rushed for a game-high 65 yards on seven carries in the first half.

On a day like this, Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said, "you've just got to get the points where you can. The field just got progressively worse and worse.

"It was nice Friday. Our field was in great shape after we ate breakfast and came down here at 9:30 Saturday morning. And then the rain came through. It's just a neutralizer for everybody. It's bad that kids have to play on that kind of surface."

But the Hilltoppers' defense came up with another dominant performance, getting interceptions of Wheaton North's John Peltz (10-of-22, 108 yards) from Marconi, Charlie Sweeney and Grant Greeno.

"Sure, we would have liked to have been able to run a few different passing routes," Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. "That impacts your passing game. But their DBs have to deal with the same stuff."

Andrews' 32-yard run down the right sideline on the first play of the second quarter gave the Hilltoppers a first-and-goal at the Wheaton North three-yard line. But a penalty and three plays for negative yards pushed Glenbard West back to the 34 before Devante Toney ran 19 yards to the 15. That was within Lekacz's range and he booted the field goal with 9:17 left in the second quarter.

Wheaton North got to the Glenbard West 13 late in the first half, but Lake Bachar's 30-yard field-goal attempt missed to the right. Glenbard West managed just two first downs in the second half. But the defense made the lead stand up as Marconi and Sweeney had interceptions in the fourth quarter.

"I figured it would be low-scoring and it would be hard for offenses to get going," Wardynski said. "And it turned out to be that way."

Hetlet was glad to get past the Falcons.

"With or without Thorson, they're a very effective offense," he said. "If we play those guys 10 times, it's probably 5-5. ... They're not weak anywhere."

"Our emotions are all over the place right now," Wheaton North's Jaylen Howze said. "The surface, we both played on it so we can't make excuses about that. All in all, we played a good game."

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.