“Huskie Havoc” is the term used by the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys basketball team to describe its defensive intensity during games. The style of play is designed to apply as much pressure as possible on opponents. When the Huskies’ defense is at its best, a lot of turnovers are created which often lead to a faster tempo and easier scoring opportunities.

Friday night at OPRF, the Huskies’ strong defensive effort in the first half against Glenbard West – holding the Hilltoppers to two baskets and creating 15 turnovers – set the tone in a 63-55 West Suburban Silver conference victory. The win improved the Huskies to 7-0 (2-0 in conference) as they start a 13-day break between games.

“Our practices were much more spirited this week,” OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. “One of our points of emphasis every single day was defensive rebounding and I thought we did a tremendous job keeping (Glenbard West) off the glass. We did a nice job in neutralizing their size and physicality. Our number one goal was to limit them to eight offensive rebounds, and they had just five when we pulled our starters late in the game.”

Unlike the previous conference game (57-50 win over LyonsTownship) in which OPRF came out flat, the Huskies displayed plenty of energy from the opening tip.

“It was a good game,” said junior guard Chase Robinson, who had 12 points and five rebounds. “Everybody was ready to play and it was a good win for us.”

OPRF led 14-5 after the first quarter and 26-12 at halftime as Glenbard West had just two baskets and eight free throws made during the first 16 minutes.

“Our half-court defense was tremendous in the first half,” Maloney said. “We turned them over a lot with our presses and tried to do the same thing in the third quarter, but we got a little sloppy and had to pull back and play solid man-to-man again.

“We did a lot of fouling in the second half and put their stud (6-foot-5) junior forward Evan Taylor) on the line often. He didn’t miss a free throw. You can’t foul a Division I player like that often and give him easy points from the line.”

Taylor had a game-high 16 points to lead Glenbard West (4-4, 1-2). Caden Phillips added 10 points for the Hilltoppers.

Junior forward Anthony Roberts led OPRF with 14 points and junior guard Dashon Enoch added 12 points. Robinson, who transferred to OPRF from Marist before the school year started, appears to be blending in well with his teammates.

“I feel like I’ve adjusted well,” he said. “I know most of these guys from AAU. It’s easy playing with them. They welcomed me with open arms and so far it’s been fun.”

As solid as the Huskies looked defensively, there were a few shaky moments on offense during the first half, especially in half-court sets.

“We seemed to be a little more assertive in the second half offensively,” Maloney said. “We attacked the rim and stopped settling for long twos and threes like we did in the first.”

The margin of victory would have been greater if the Huskies had hit a few more free throws late.

“Unfortunately, the starters had a few misses down the stretch,” Maloney said. “You’ve got to hit free throws in order to seal games at the end.”

OPRF now takes a break from game action as the team studies for semester final exams next week. The Huskies’ next game will not be until December 28, when they face Lockport in a first-round game at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. There is sure to be some rust shown by OPRF in that game, but Maloney isn’t too worried.

“That’s always a concern,” said Maloney, whose team is seeded third at Pontiac. “But we have finals next week and academics is a priority. We make sure our guys do what they’re supposed to do in the classroom.

“The good thing is that we get to rest a bit and we should be healthy. It also gives us time to polish some things and put in new stuff that teams are going to see.”

He added, “I do feel we got better as a team this week than we were last week. We improved on areas we were weak, but there’s still some things that we need to work on, especially on the offensive side of the ball.”

Robinson is also looking forward to playing at Pontiac for the first time.

“I’m really excited for Pontiac. In fact, the entire team is,” he said. “I feel that we’re ready. We’ve been practicing hard. We can’t wait to go down there and play and show people what OPRF is all about.”

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