Grana, Palatine keep alive title hope
Last season, Palatine's Greg Grana was part of the glue that helped keep his team together through a difficult season.
This season, he has a more prominent role, and Grana played it to perfection Friday night in Palatine as Barrington paid a visit.
Grana scored 11 points, including a tying 3-point play in the third quarter to knot the score at 36. With 2:33 left in the quarter Grana popped in a baseline shot for the first Pirate lead at 38-36.
Vinnie Tuzil gave Barrington (14-11, 4-5) their last lead a minute later with a 3-point basket at 39-38.
Chris Macahon (16 points) gave Palatine the lead for good at 40-39 as time expired for the quarter.
Palatine went on to defeat Barrington 63-51 in the Mid-Suburban West to set up the opportunity to earn a tie for the division title if it can win Friday at Schaumburg.
"This win feels good," said Grana. "It shows where we have come from since last year's team. If you wants results, you have to work at it. It's all about the team. We trust and have confidence in each other."
"Grana just plays with so much confidence. He keeps everyone together," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "He's our heart and soul. He plays with a healthy confidence. He was one of the players who kept us going after we fell behind."
Palatine (15-11, 6-3) needed the confidence factor after the first quarter.
Barrington broke out to a 24-12 lead after the first quarter and looked to have the game well in hand before things took a dramatic shift.
The Broncos were led by Brad Zaumseil, who scored 17 points — including the 1,000th of his career in the first quarter — along with 7 rebounds.
"We had some shots fall in the first quarter, and then they wouldn't fall after that," said Barrington coach Bryan Tucker. "They tweaked their defense and put more pressure on the ball, and we stopped moving the ball."
The Pirates closed the gap some by halftime to 31-24.
Once Palatine took the lead, Roosevelt Smart (25 points, 6 rebounds) and Josh Baldus (8 points, 6 rebounds) took charge in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 and 6 points, respectively. The Pirates eased away with an 11-3 run to open a 54-42 lead with 3:20 left. Palatine hit 9 of 12 free throws the rest of the game.
"When they shot out to an early lead," said Millstone, "we just had to ride it out. We didn't make many adjustments at halftime. We started getting better shots and were more focused."
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