Team effort sparks Wauconda's hot start to season

The positives keep rolling in for the Wauconda boys basketball team.

The Bulldogs were 10-2 heading into the new year after winning the Marengo E.C. Nichols tournament.

"The win against Rochelle was a win against a team that plays a similar style to what we play," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "They have a talented group of players that played great. It was a really fun game to be part of. We have a lot of respect for coach (Nate) Wright and Marengo. The Marengo and even the Genoa-Kingston game showed how well we are playing in our system. Our kids are playing together and have really come together to play as one unit. Players are playing well off each other and finding ways to impact the game with their play. They understand they can impact the game in ways besides just scoring."

Stalwarts thus far for Wauconda include the likes of Griffin Daun (20.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.3 spg), Justin Drobnik (11.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg) and Braeden Carlsen (11.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg).

"Griffin is picking his moment in the offense to take over," Luetschwager said. "He is so athletic and has great body control that it makes it hard to slow him down. Justin is doing a great job of letting the game come to him. He can score in different spots on the floor and has the vision to find his teammates in all those spots, too. Braeden can score, which teams need to respect, but with all our weapons, it makes it difficult for teams to focus on him. He also has become active on the glass."

Carmel update:

The Corsairs won the consolation championship of the Centralia holiday tournament, finishing there with a 3-1 mark.

Carmel's Bryce Moore was named to the all-tournament second team.

"After losing our first game to a good team from Kentucky, we said if we could get out of the tournament 3-1, it would be a success," Carmel coach Zack Ryan said. "Our last win was against a very good Chatham-Glenwood team where we were able to defend at a high level. This was great momentum going into the new year and a bunch of conference games."

Moore is averaging 20.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while Asher Jackson averages 18.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range.

Carmel heads out of town for a Martin Luther King tournament next week in Moline. "We get to play in two historic gyms within three weeks," Ryan pointed out.

Grayslake North update:

Grayslake North put 2021 to bed on a high note. The Knights won their final three games at the Marengo E.C. Nichols tournament to win the consolation championship. North defeated Harvest Christian in overtime and then held on to defeat Fenton 55-52 for the consolation title.

Coach Josh Feinzimer said Joe Valera and Dom Jankowski were leaders on both ends of the court. Jacob Donohue had a career-high 17 points in the Harvest win, and also set the career charges-taken record for the program.

"Jacob is shooting the ball really well right now," Feinzimer said. "He seems to have shaken the rust off after starting at quarterback for our football team."

Valera had his second career double-double with a 19-point, 10-rebound effort against Harvest at Marengo.

Antioch update:

Antioch had a pair of games canceled, but still got three in at the Maine East tournament over the holidays against Class 4A schools Niles West, Metea Valley and Addison Trail. The Sequoits lost the last two games by a combined 9 points.

"We are improving," coach Sean Connor said.

Freshman Marshall Gehrke was named to the Maine East all-tournament team. Connor also was high on the play of junior Emmy Zamudio.

"Emmy was stellar over Christmas break," he said. "He currently leads our team in assists and 3-pointers made."

Senior Trenton Crandall has been strong for Antioch after not playing last year. He's the team's second-leading scorer. "Trenton continues to be a great addition," Connor said. "He will be attending UW-Platteville for agricultural studies and is being recruited by their basketball team that is currently 13-0."

Connor liked the Maine East track for the preparation it provided prior to heading into the heart of conference play. "We were able to make additions to our defense and offense and implement them live in games before NLCC play. We also got some sophomores playing time on varsity since their tournament was canceled."

Mundelein update:

The Mustangs went 1-3 at the Collinsville Holiday Tournament and take a 6-8 mark into the second part of their season.

"We have played competitively all season to come up on the short end," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "We are still learning how to play together, but injuries and COVID have caused us to have most games and practices without a full squad. Due to this, we do expect to come together in the coming weeks and start playing in sync."

Badgley had high praise for Brock Paluch heading into 2022. "Brock is a guy that is doing what is asked, limiting his mistakes, and therefore, finding success and ways to shine."

Vernon Hills update:

The Cougars finished 2-2 at Maine East, losing in the consolation title game to Argo. "We had some ups and downs during the tournament, so I think our biggest take-away that we have focused on this week during practice is consistency in all areas," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "We did not do a good job last week putting together all aspects that have led to some of our successes."

Milan Raval was all-tournament at Maine East for the Cougars.

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