By Eric Burgher
New Trier felt a sense of relief heading back to the visiting locker room after their 61-44 victory over Glenbrook South.
“That’s what happens when the ball actually goes in the hoop,” said assistant coach Terry Coughlin as he headed in behind the players.
Indeed, it was a striking turnaround for the Trevians, shooting 9-for-12 from three following up an 0-for-11 performance in their last game against Niles North, a 44-26 loss.
The Trevians were led by junior Matt Samuelson, who scored 17 points off the bench, including 5-for-5 from three-point range. Ciaran Brayboy added 12 points and Andrew Kirkpatrick had 10.
“It was just one of those games where I felt a touch and everything seemed to work for me,” said Samuelson, who also saw his most minutes of the season Friday.
This has been a particularly trying couple of weeks for New Trier. Coming into Friday, they had lost three of their last four games. Already playing without captain Dylan Horvitz, who has been out with a high-ankle sprain since Dec. 2, they lost top reserves Jack French, Griffin Ryan and James Connors during that stretch to various injuries and illnesses. And Brayboy, one of the team’s leading scorers, left their previous game with an ankle injury.
It had all been taking its toll on the team, which is why it meant so much to have Brayboy, French and Connors back in the lineup on Friday. It was the first time in weeks the team played with the kind of cohesion that led to big early season victories over Loyola, Niles North and Downers Grove North.
The team got off to a slow start Friday, scoring only nine points in the first quarter. But Samuelson came in and hit three straight from behind the arc to give New Trier their first lead of the game with 1:53 left in the second quarter before going into the half up by seven.
The Trevians’ defense held Glenbrook South to 44 points, the same amount they gave up to Niles West in their blowout loss just a week before. The spark from Samuelson was just what New Trier needed to get the offense back on track. It the fifth time this season the team scored 60 or more points.
“That is how we have to play,” said Fricke. “We’ve got to go inside out; we’ve got to make the extra pass and we’ve got to get the best shot every time down the floor and that’s what we did today.”
With the win, New Trier improved to 8-7 on the season, and 7-1 in games where they score 55 or more points. And with Horvitz returning to practice and Ryan not far behind, the Trevians will look to be back at full strength as they face three games in four days at the end of this week.