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Country Club Hills Hillcrest's #14 Jayon'e Troutman drives to the basket in front of Chicago DuSable's #23 Chris Galbreath at the 3A Super-Sectional held at Joliet Central and Hillcrest won 47-44 on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Medi
If the state tournament is a stage and the players are actors in their stories, Chris Galbreath was more than ready for an encore.
A year ago, the 6-6 DuSable forward played a key role on the Panthers’ run through the Class 3A tournament. DuSable shocked host St. Ignatius in winning the Wolfpack’s own sectional before letting a fourth-quarter lead slip away in a three-point loss to Hillcrest at the supersectional.
DuSable entered this season with greater expectations than usual, but heavy graduation losses took their toll. The Panthers had a decent, though hardly spectacular, follow-up regular season in the Public League Red-Central.
But the IHSA tournament brings out the best in Galbreath and the Panthers. Last week, the senior put on a couple of memorable back-to-back performances. He scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 rebounds and three steals as the Panthers stunned the sectional’s fourth-seed, Brother Rice, 55-53.
He also recorded a key steal with three seconds to play that helped secure the victory.
Last Friday night, playing host St. Rita, Galbreath scored his team’s first 16 points and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Panthers beat the Mustangs 54-52 on Malik Williams’s game-winning jump shot at the buzzer.
“We like to call ourselves the bracket-busters, because we beat a bunch of that teams that nobody expects us to and that’s really inspired us,” Galbreath said.
The regional title catapulted the No. 25 Panthers into the Argo Sectional semifinals Tuesday against three-time defending Class 4A state champion No. 2 Simeon. For his accomplishments, Galbreath is the Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.
Galbreath has averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds for the 14-10 Panthers. “We’re really excited about playing another team that’s high up in the rankings,” he said.
Galbreath attributes his own breakout performance to a desire to extend his senior season as long as possible.
“Nobody wants their season to end now, and that’s just motivated me 100 percent. I love this team and just want to put DuSable on the map,” he said.
Galbreath said he performed at a high level because of individual matchups he was able to dominate.
“I was just taking what the defenses gave me,” he said. “Against Brother Rice, I had an advantage on the people sticking me and whatever they gave me, I just took it,” he said.
DuSable coach Theo Williams, a star guard on the Panthers’ 1998 Final Four Public League tournament qualifier, said he challenged Galbreath before the start of the Brothe Rice game.
“I wanted him to dominate at both ends, not just on offense,” Williams said. “Against Brother Rice, I thought early on, he was taking too many jump shots and so I challenged him in the St. Rita game to get to the basket. He not only scored, but he got the early fouls on the Matthews boys [brothers Charles and Dominique] and that was big, because it forced them to change the way they were guarding him.”
Galbreath’s leadership abilities have also matured as he became the face of this year’s team.
“Last year I was just playing my role, we had a lot of seniors,” he said. “This year I helped lead the team, even carry the team on my back. We moved up to [Class] 4A and people didn’t think we could do what we did last year, so it was definitely a challenge. The big thing is, I just want to play team basketball.”
Galbreath, who is unsigned, said he has drawn recruiting interest from Cal-Irvine, Minnesota State, Texas-Pan American and locally, North Park. He also played quarterback, receiver and safety on the Panthers’ football team.
“Football made me tougher, my footwork got better and I learned better how to be able to move my feet on defense,” he said.
Basketball is his future, and it is a bright one, said Williams.
“Each year his game has evolved,” the coach said. “I don’t think he knew how good he was. Once the seniors from last year moved on, he knew it was his time and he’s shown a lot of maturity. During tryouts, he was the first in for conditioning and weight training. When you get that effort from your best player, everybody else will follow.”
CHRIS GALBREATH FAVORITES
Favorite sport: Basketball
Favorite team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Favorite athlete: Kevin Durant
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: Above the Rim
Favorite TV show: ESPN’s “SportsCenter”
Favorite rapper: Jay-Z
Favorite teacher: Math instructor Mr. Cotton
Favorite video console: PlayStation 3