It’s no wonder Grant scored 80 points on Wednesday night.
Nearly two-thirds of those points were scored on high percentage shots taken in the paint.
Forwards Jared Helmich and Ilya Kadushin combined for 50 points, pounding their way inside time after time in leading the host Bulldogs to an 80-68 victory over Johnsburg in the second round of the Grant Holiday Tournament.
Helmich scored a game- and career-high 29 points to go along with 8 rebounds while Kadushin rolled up 21 points and 9 rebounds as Grant improved to 7-4 on the season.
“My teammates were just getting me the ball. I can’t do it without them. They gave me all the passes and I just put it in,” said Helmich, who was stuck on automatic early on, pumping in 16 points in the first quarter alone. “I got people on my back and was able to get to the basket.”
By halftime, Helmich had 22 points to his name. As he became the focus of the Johnsburg defense in the second half, Kadushin stepped up his game.
Kadushin scored 16 of his 21 points after halftime.
“Their post players killed us,” said Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint, whose team drops to 4-5 on the season. “(Helmich) is just always playing at 100 percent. He just plays hard. He’s got this motor that never stops.
“It’s just a lot of heart and playing hard.”
And working hard, too.
Grant coach Wayne Bosworth says that Helmich and Kadushin are among the hardest workers on his team. Outings like these by his two big guys aren’t a surprise.
“Those are two big boys that we’re lucky to have on our team,” Bosworth said of the 6-foot-2 Helmich and the 6-foot-5 Kadushin. “I wouldn’t like to game-plan for them. If they shut down one, the other one is in there crashing the boards and getting the job done.
“They’ve got that workhorse mentality. Both of them do. They crash the glass with a hard mentality. Jared was (a workhorse last year) and Ilya’s that way now, too. He’s one of those kids you can’t get out of the gym, one of those kids you can’t get out of the weight room. He’s one of the hardest workers in our program.”
Kadushin scored 14 fourth-quarter points as Grant had to keep the pedal to the metal to put away the pesky Skyhawks.
Johnsburg used its 1-2-2 full-court press to stay within arm’s length down the stretch, cutting double-digit deficits to as few as 7 points multiple times.
Grant had 21 turnovers on the game and 10 in the second half, many of which were caused by the Johnsburg press.
“That’s the first time we’ve been pressed in a year and a half,” Bosworth said. “Even North Chicago doesn’t press us anymore because we’ve always capitalized on it.
“But tonight, we didn’t do very well on our press break. Our guys know how to do it, but we just didn’t get it done.”
Helmich and Kadushin weren’t the only ones who got it done on the offensive end for Grant. Senior guard Sean Wells added 13 points.
Johnsburg got double-figures out of four players, including a team-high 23 points from reserve guard Brandon Ridout.
Guard Mike Ward scored 15 points for the Skyhawks while guard Kevin Dombrowski and forward TJ Sigmund added 13 and 12 points respectively.
McHenry 42, Round Lake 37: It was a two-minute turnaround.
Round Lake was sitting pretty for most of the fourth quarter in Wednesday’s Grant Holiday Tournament game against McHenry.
The Panthers were up by 7 points with just under two minutes remaining.
But then McHenry went on an improbable 12-0 run to close out the game and a 42-37 victory.
“We just let it go,” heartbroken Round Lake senior guard Daniel Uriostegui said. “We’ve got to learn how to win. We just broke down. I don’t know how else to put it. We were all feeling good. We were feeling confident. We had a great chance to win this game and we just didn’t. This is totally on us.”
And perhaps a bit on McHenry guard Shane Varvil.
He nailed a back-breaking 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that gave McHenry its first lead of the game (38-37) and the confidence to carry its rally all the way to the end.
“You could see that when (Varvil) hit that shot, the rest of the kids were like, ‘Finally,’” McHenry coach Tim Paddock said. “They came in the timeouts with good eyes. They weren’t freaking. You could see it in their body language. They were playing with a lot of confidence after that.”
Varvil hit 2 three-pointers on the night for 6 points. He was one of seven McHenry players who scored. But none of them reached double-figures.
The Warriors were led by Robert Tonyan and Jamie Rammel, each of whom finished with 9 points.
Round Lake was paced by Uriostegui and Juddon Carter. They each scored 10 points.
“Our issue has been the same thing for two years now,” Round Lake coach Jim Roberts said. “We can play well for most of the game and then we make mistakes at crucial times.
“We had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter and only 7 turnovers up to that point. We make fundamental errors at crucial times.”
— Patricia Babcock McGrawCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.