By THE HERALD-WHIG
MONMOUTH, Ill. -- Illlini West senior Brody Gronewold grabbed a rebound, looked up and saw a clear path to the basket.
He seized the opportunity, driving to the rim to earn a three-point play and give the Chargers a three-point advantage with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining against Monmouth-Roseville on Tuesday night.
The Titans, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, had four chances to tie the game, but Illini West (2-0) turned them away to earn a 40-37 upset win. Once the buzzer sounded Gronewold, who scored a game-high 17 points, could relax.
"(In the final 90 seconds) we buckled down defensively and were flying around trying to force turnovers and get rebounds," Gronewold said. "(The buzzer) couldn't come soon enough. When it did, it felt really nice."
Gronewold scored seven points in the final quarter.
"Brody was resilient," Illini West coach Hughs said. "He had to guard their best player, handle the ball and make tough shots. There were times he could have folded to the pressure, but he kept making plays."
The Chargers (2-0) held a 19-14 advantage at halftime. Strong defense provided Illini West with offense.
"Stopping them on defense and getting turnovers boosted our confidence a lot," Gronewold said. "Offensively, (the team was) working ball around and making extra pass."
After Monmouth-Roseville opened the second half with a 5-0 run, Illini West responded with a few baskets, giving Hughs a sign his team could win.
The Chargers were doing exactly what Hughs wanted them to do.
"In a word, work," Hughs said. "The kids did all the little things. They played defense, rebounded, went after loose balls and took charges. They did all the things that don't show up in box scores."
Hughs is happy with the win but can't celebrate too much with No. 6 Rockridge on the schedule for Friday.
"I think the win built confidence for us," Hughs said. "But we have another big game against a state-ranked opponent on the road coming up. We are content, but not satisfied."