Tag Archives: Cooper Noard

Glenbrook South is ready to make a deep playoff run this season

Phil Ralston knows each time Glenbrook South steps on to the basketball court, his team has a target on its back. 

As the Glenbrook South varsity boys’ basketball coach, Ralston’s Titans have a 45-7 record the past two seasons. They finished 16-2 earlier this year in a condensed season that didn’t feature a state basketball tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No one’s not going to know about us,” Ralston said. “Those days have ended.”

A big reason for that is seniors Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard. 

The duo scored 700 combined points in 18 games as juniors last season, and both have committed to playing Division-I basketball at the next level: Martinelli at Elon University and Noard at Cornell University. 

“There aren’t too many teams in the state that can claim that they have two All-State basketball players coming back and playing for them,” Ralston said. “That is something I’ve never had as a coach. So to have two high-level players coming back this year it makes a huge difference.”

As a sophomore, Martinelli played on a Glenbrook South team that won 29 games, so he knows what it is like to be a part of a good unit. But the 6-foot-8 shooting guard believes this year’s Titans can be special. 

Nick Martinelli attempts a free throw during the 2020-21 season. (Photo: Braeden Schmidt)

“I think we will be the best team the school has had ever,” Martinelli said.  “We definitely have the most talent that I’ve ever seen at a public high school gym. We have so many guys that can come in and score, and we have guys that just want to get down and play defense and work hard.”

As for Noard, whenever someone asks him what the expectations are for this year, he always responds with the same answer. 

“It’s to win a state championship,” Noard said. “It doesn’t really matter how we get there, how hard it is, what we do to get there. That’s my one goal.”

In order for the 2021-22 Titans to become the best team in school history or to win a championship, they are going to need more than just Martinelli and Noard to accomplish those goals. 

Last season, Glenbrook South had seniors Matthew Rosenberger and Justin Leszynski they could count on. The two finished as the team’s third and fourth leading scorers, respectively. Rosenberger scored 115 points and Leszynski added 100 points. And as seniors, they also provided leadership for the team.

Junior Rodell Davis Jr. — also known as RJ to his coaches and teammates — is someone that Ralston, Martinelli and Noard view as bringing those same qualities for this season.

“I really think that RJ has become such a good leader this year,” Martinelli said. “It’s crazy just to see how much he has grown from sophomore to junior year.”

For Davis, he wasn’t surprised to hear his coach and teammates express their confidence in him. 

“Over this past offseason, I’ve been in the gym everyday lifting, getting better. I feel like I’m bigger, stronger,” Davis said. “So I was kind of expecting it and I’m prepared to take on the role.”

Ralston, Martinelli and Noard also expressed confidence in senior Spencer Brown and junior Gavin Marr. The talent is there for Glenbrook South, and that’s why Ralson and the rest of the Titans’ coaching staff have constructed a schedule that will test the players. 

This season, Glenbrook South is slated to play teams like Glenbard West, Simeon, and, of course, conference rival New Trier. Chicago Sun-Times editor Michael O’Brien ranked all three of those teams — including Glenbrook South — in his Super 25, with Glenbard West at No. 1, Simeon No. 5, Glenbrook south No. 6 and New Trier No. 9. 

The Titans began their 2021 season competing in the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic Varsity Boys’ Basketball Tournament. Glenbrook South defeated Elk Grove, 91-49, on Monday for its first game of the year. And followed that performance with a 79-32 victory over Jacobs the next day.

Next up, Glenbrook South will face York on Friday and finish the tournament on Saturday. This week’s worth of games is just the beginning of what the Titans expect to be a highly productive season.

“I think we have a group that is mentally tough. They’re hungry,” Ralston said. “They want to try and accomplish something that our program has never done, which is to win a sectional. Great aspiration. We certainly have the talent and capability to do it. Now it’s a matter of being able to put it all together, with no guarantees that it is ever going to happen.”

New Trier Plays Spoiler Role, Now Tied Atop CSL South

With 2:08 remaining in the second quarter, New Trier was down by 22 points to Glenbrook South on its home court.

For the Trevians, the outcome looked bleak. But the team never flinched. 

When the final buzzer sounded, the New Trier players ran to center court, celebrating after their 64-63 comeback victory against the Titans. 

New Trier coach Scott Fricke couldn’t have been more proud of his group. 

“We came out so flat today, and I think it has to do with playing two emotional games against Evanston this weekend, not having a day to prep, there were a lot of things we could have used as excuses,” Fricke said. “Our kids just decided to play harder, reach from within, and you kind of saw what happened.” 

The Trevians (10-2, 6-2) ended the first half on a 12-3 run to make it a 37-24 game going into the third quarter. 

“We talked at halftime; it’s not like we are going to get the lead back in one minute,” Fricke said. “Let’s just chip away and play solid basketball. We’re still in the game.”

It started with New Trier’s adjustment to use a 1-3-1 defense. This forced Glenbrook South (14-2, 6-2) into turnovers and New Trier took advantage.

“We started getting very lazy with passes and we stopped moving against the zone,” Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said. “It was just like the perfect storm.” 

One of the other reasons why New Trier made its comeback was because of junior forward Jackson Munro, who ended with a game-high 21 points. 

After picking up two early fouls, which forced him to sit for a good portion of the second quarter, Munro scored six in the third quarter. Sophomore Jake Fiegen added another six points in the third, and New Trier trailed by one entering the last eight minutes of play. 

Glenbrook South junior Cooper Noard started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to give the Titans a 53-49 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Noard finished with a team-high 18 points. 

But the Trevians kept fighting and Glenbrook South’s 22-point lead was all but gone. With one minute remaining in the game, New Trier was tied 60-60. A few seconds, after Josh Kirkpatrick’s two made free throws, the Trevians were up 63-61. 

Despite having the lead, New Trier junior Karlo Colak — who scored nine points — knew the game was far from over. 

“It was at the moment we were up that we needed to play the best we have played the whole game,” Colak said. “We needed to finish this thing off and not let this chance slip away.”

The comeback will go down as a memory Colak, Fricke and the entire New Trier team will never forget. The Trevians now move into a tie atop the CSL South standings in the loss column (two, with Evanston and Glenbrook South). New Trier’s win over Evanston Saturday put the Titans in the driver’s seat for the end-of-season Chipotle Clash of Champions slot guaranteed to the CSL South champion. Evanston now takes the bid with a win over Maine South on Wednesday.

Glenbrook South juniors Cooper Noard and Nick Martinelli too much for Niles West

On Friday night inside the Titan Dome against Niles West, Glenbrook South juniors Cooper Noard and Nick Martinelli proved why they are some of the most prolific scorers in the state. 

Noard and Martinelli both finished with 23 points in a convincing 60-41 victory over the Wolves, improving the Titans record to (13-1, 5-1). 

“They’re really hard to stop together, especially when both of them are clicking,” Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said. “If one guy is going off and you try to take him away, the next thing you know the other guy is wide open, so it creates some problems.”

Noard scored the first points of the game with a three in front of the small student section. He went 4-of-5 from distance and added a 7-foot jump shot in the first. In the third quarter, the 6-foot-2 point guard made both of his 3-pointers. 

“They (Niles West) came out in a zone, and my teammates were finding me and I was getting open shots,” Noard said. “I was able to knock them down. My teammates trust me. They give me shots when I was open and I was able to take advantage.”

When Noard is converting on his shots, he has “the green light” to keep on shooting. But even if he does miss, Noard knows that Martinelli will be in position to give the team an opportunity to get some second-chance points. 

Out of Martinelli’s 23 points, only three came from long range. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard did a majority of his scoring inside. His 10 points in the third quarter gave Glenbrook South a 55-33 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

“I think we have probably the best offense in the state when me and Nick are both on our games,” Noard said. 

He also added that with the help of the seniors on the roster it only makes Martinelli’s and his game “even better.”

One of the seniors is Justin Leszynski, who finished third on the team in scoring with 8 points. He also had a blocked shot with 1:57 remaining in the second quarter that ricocheted off the backboard and led to a transition layup from Martinelli. 

For Niles West, junior guard Moses Leblanc finished with a team-high 18 points. 

Going into the game, Niles West coach Mike Wasielewski knew it would be a challenge trying to contain all of the playmakers that the Titans have on their roster. 

“I think I saw fight the whole game,” Wasielewski said. “With the talent they have, they could have blown us out by 20 in the first half and they didn’t. Our guys fought. Again, we don’t have some of the same fire power that they have. I’m happy we competed and hoping some of the younger guys can develop.”

Evanston Defeats Glenbrook South, 68-54, Splits Season Series

Glenbrook South led Evanston for almost an entire quarter on Saturday at the Titan Dome — the second game of a back-to-back for the teams. But as the final seconds of the period were about to expire, Evanston’s Blake Peters ran down the middle of the lane and got a put back to give Evanston a one-point lead. 

It was all Evanston the rest of the way.

The Wildkits only grew their lead as the game went on and would end up defeating the Titans, 68-54, giving Glenbrook South its first loss of the season and, more importantly, splitting the season series with the Titans. The teams are once again tied atop the CSL South standings at 4-1.

Peters had a team-high 28 points for the Wildkits, and junior point guard Rashawn Bost finished second in scoring for Evanston with 13 points. 

For Glenbrook South, junior forward Nick Martinelli ended with a game-high 31 points, and fellow junior point guard Cooper Noard was second with 11 points. 

The Wildkits started to extend their lead in the second quarter behind Peters’ 11 points. At halftime, the Wildkits had a 34-21 advantage. 

Martinelli finished with 15 points at the end of the first two quarters, and only senior small forward Matthew Rosenberger (four points) and junior forward Brandon Ballarinin (two points) made the stat sheet in the first half. 

In the third quarter, the Wildkits broke the game open. After Martinelli scored the first points of the second half with a layup, Peters followed that up on the next possession with a 3-pointer in front of the Evanston bench. 

Evanston forced a turnover on Glenbrook South’s next offensive possession and Bost completed a three-point play, scoring on a layup and adding a free throw. Shortly after, Bost made a three-pointer to make it a 20-point lead with roughly 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. 

Glenbrook South did go on a 6-0 run to make it a 43-29 game with 3:40 left in the quarter, but the Titans couldn’t get it much closer than that. Evanston would go on an 8-2 run to close out the quarter, giving them a 51-31 lead heading into the last eight minutes of play. 

Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston did change up his defense in the fourth, utilizing a zone look, which forced a turnover on the first possession and an Evanston timeout on the next one. But the Wildkits still had firm control and ended up having to shoot free throws to close out the game.

With the victory, Evanston improves to 9-1 on the season and will face Maine West on Monday. After the loss, Glenbrook South is now 11-1 and will host Maine West on Tuesday. 

Glenbrook South’s swarming defense too much for Highland Park

From Glenbrook South’s starting five to the end of the bench, the Titans played relentless defense all game against visiting Highland Park. 

When a lane potentially looked open, senior big man Justin Leszynski was there to close it. When Highland Park set a screen, senior small forward Matthew Rosenberger was there to tell his teammate to switch. When a pass went into the middle of the defense, junior forward Spencer Brown was there to tip it. 

“I really try to compartmentalize our practices to work on things we are going to see in the games,” Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said. “We probably don’t spend longer than 15-to-20 minutes working on our shell defense, but during that shell, we expect all of our kids to be engaged and how we expect them to defend.”

For Glenbrook South, how the players practice manifests itself in the games. The Titans defeated the Giants, 62-29, staying undefeated and improving to 8-0 on the season. 

To compliment the Titans’ defense, Nick Martinelli added a team-high 21 points, scoring 10 of those points in the second quarter. Cooper Noard also had a 10-point quarter in the third, finishing with 15. 

Noard started his night 0-for-4 from three-point range in the first half but made all three of his attempts in the third quarter. 

Ralston wasn’t worried about his star point guard missing his shots in the first half. 

“None of them are bad looks, they just didn’t fall,” Ralston said. “He’s such a good shooter. Once he hits one, he’s going to hit two, he’s going to hit three, he might hit four. You got to watch out.”

Highland Park, on the other hand, didn’t have a bounce-back performance at any point throughout the night in the Titan Dome. A majority of the Giants’ offense was spent passing the ball outside of the 3-point line from one side of the court to the other, searching for answers. 

Billy Rudman led the Giants with 10 points, and Ben Shamberg scored six points. 

The 62 points scored in tonight’s game was the fifth time this season the Titans have eclipsed the 60-point mark. 

Glenbrook South has had plenty of success on that side of the ball, but Leszynski — who scored seven points — knows it all starts with the defense. 

“I like to think that the other team can’t beat you if they can’t score more points than you,” Leszynski said. “I like to embrace doing whatever I’m needed to do on defense … A lot of our offense comes from defense. I know when we are playing well defensively we are one of the best teams in the state.”

Glenbrook South rains threes in 64-46 victory over Maine South

The roughly 40 fans in attendance at Glenbrook South’s game against Maine South at the Titan Dome only saw one layup from the home team in the first quarter.

What they also witnessed was Glenbrook South making five three-pointers in the first eight minutes of play. 

The Titans were just getting started.

Glenbrook South went on to make 12 total triples in a 64-46 victory over Maine South, improving its record to 6-0 on the season. On Friday night, the Titans made eight 3-pointers in a 55-33 win. 

Glenbrook South junior Nick Martinelli credited the team’s defense for the success they have had on offense. 

“Each person just doing their job, being on the help side and guarding their own man — that’s all we basically do in practice,” Martinelli said. “We’ve had long, boring practices just working on defense and being in the right spot. In the game it works and it helps and it makes the game a lot more fun.” 

Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said that the practices may be “monotonous” at times, but Ralston likes to put his players in game-like situations that will create “game-ready shooters” instead of “drive-way shooters.” 

One of those “game-ready shooters” is junior guard Cooper Noard, who had 10 total triples in home-away series with the Hawks.

“Anytime you got a really good point guard, you got a shot at being really good as a team,” Ralston said. “When you got a point guard that can also score, that opens up your game to a completely new level. Teams are focused, five guys on him. A lot of our actions are trying to free him up for open looks. But the other aspect of it is that our offense is also designed to get other people in positions where they are going to get open looks too. The more teams have to focus on some other guys it frees up Cooper even more.”

Martinelli is one of the players that benefits from the attraction Cooper creates. Martinelli and Noard tied for a team-high 18 points.  

Glenbrook South outscored Maine South 21-10 in the third quarter to give the Titans a 62-31 lead heading into the final frame, essentially putting the game out of reach. Ralston put in his bench with about 5:40 left in the game, and the backups played a majority of the fourth quarter.  

Maine South, now 4-2 overall, had a brief lead in the game, when the Hawks were leading 9-6 with 4:46 left in the first quarter. Maine South coach Tony Lavorato knew this second game against Glenbrook South would be a challenge, especially since starter Ryan Leyden was injured in the first quarter of Friday’s game. 

“We don’t get a chance to practice with the kids who will be replacing him, so we are kind of doing things on the fly and through walk-throughs,” Lavorato said. “Were we leg weary? I don’t know, but the bottom line is they also played four games. They did a much better job than we did finishing the week strong. We are going to learn and get better and get stronger. That’s kind of what it’s about.” 

Ralston anticipated Maine South would make some adjustments from the previous matchup, so Glenbrook South countered with their own changes, and also knocked down shots from long range.

“We tweaked some aspects of our offense that we expected them to do against us, and they worked,” Ralston said. “Then we had all the different kids that hit threes … that opens things up.”

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