Grayslake North puts em-phasis on winning
That was Emily for 3.
And Emily D. for 3.
And Emily D. for 3 again.
Em and Em made for a m'm-m'm good night for Grayslake North's girls basketball team.
"It's the name," Grayslake North senior Emily Stinner said with a smile after she and her sophomore teammate Emily Dugan came off the bench to hit a combined five 3-pointers in the first half, leading the way for the visiting Knights in their historic, 61-45 win over usually-stingy Grayslake Central on Tuesday night.
Grayslake North's 10th win in a row ran its record to 25-2 and capped a 12-0 run in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division. It's the first time the Knights have won the division. They visit Cary-Grove on Friday (7 p.m.) in what amounts to the unofficial FVC championship game.
"We've been looking forward to (the division title) all year, and I think we have a lot more to look forward to," Dugan said. "We've been working hard every day in practice, so it's awesome to finally accomplish it."
Brittney Thibeaux led a balanced scoring attack for Grayslake North with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds. Dugan and Kendall Detweiler (4 steals) added 12 points each, while Joanna Guhl contributed a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Stinner's 9 points came on three 3-pointers.
"I'm happy for the kids," Grayslake North coach Nate Flannery said. "I just told them that there are a lot of talented teams in the state of Illinois, and it's not easy to run a conference schedule, regardless of talent. They came out and performed every night. We had some close games throughout the year, and they battled through and found a way to get it done night after night."
Grayslake Central (17-10, 10-2), which had finished 12-0 in the FVC Fox each of the last two seasons, lost to only its crosstown rival in division play this season. The Rams came in allowing fewer than 37 points per game, but saw Grayslake North drop 39 on them in the first half.
Dugan, who had made 11 3-pointers in her last two games, drained a pair in the opening quarter.
"I'm just envisioning it going in, and it's happening," Dugan said. "It's exciting."
Stinner also made a 3 in the first quarter, as Grayslake North took an 18-10 lead into the second quarter. Stinner then buried two more 3s, and the Knights shot 5 of 11 (three 3s) in the second quarter, extending their advantage to 39-22 by halftime.
"Our offense was doing really well, and our defense was getting steals," said Stinner, who shot 3 of 3 in the first half. "We were pushing it in transition, and we were able to beat them up the court and turn (turnovers) into points."
Detweiler also buried a 3-pointer in the second quarter, while the Knights helped force 10 turnovers in the opening half.
"I didn't think we did a real good job of covering their shooters," Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. "I didn't think offense was our issue. (Grayslake North) is a good outside-shooting team. There was no lack of effort. It just seemed like we were a half step slow getting out to them."
Stinner and Dugan each had 9 points at halftime.
"That sure helps," Flannery said of the two players' shooting from the arc. "Without question, that's a huge momentum boost to be able to knock down shots from the perimeter early.
"I think it's starting to change a little bit," added Flannery, whose Knights also saw Jordyn Bowen (5 points) open the scoring by sinking an 18-footer. "Brittney and Jo were doing a lot of the scoring, and people just packed it inside on us. With (Dugan and Stinner) knocking down perimeters shots, hopefully it loosens things up inside again."
Grayslake Central tightened up defensively in the second half, holding Grayslake North without a 3-pointer, but the Rams never got closer than 11 points.
Carson Sparkman scored 10 points and was Grayslake Central's only double-digit scorer. Morgan Dahlstrom had 9 points and 6 rebounds, while Savannah Mudd added 8 points. Playing her first game since sitting the last couple of weeks to rest her knees, Maddy Miller came off the bench to contribute 6 points and 4 rebounds.
"If we had played defense the first half like we did the second half, it would have been a coin flip who won the game," Ikenn said. "It's one of those where you get down too far and it takes so much energy to claw your way back."
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