Jankowski starts season fire for Grayslake North

Grayslake North senior guard Dominic Jankowski is scoring points like they are going out of style.

Through late last week, Jankowski was averaging 30 points per game for the Knights. He tied the school record for most points in a game with a recent 46-point effort in a win against Streamwood.

Jankowski started the season shooting 65 percent from the field.

"I improved my finishing a lot by putting on about 15 pounds of muscle this off-season and having a consistent workout routine," he said. "That as well as me working on my ball-handling leads to me being a more efficient finisher and being able to get to the rim with ease. Also, I improved my leadership on and off the court, which leads to easier shots for me and my teammates. That's something I was lacking last year."

Jankowski said he also continues to work on his pullup jump shot and has taken advantage of some matchups in early-season games.

In terms of the 46-point explosion, Jankowski said he felt locked in "and in the zone," he said. "Everything I put up seemed to go in and I felt like I was hard to guard and I took 100% advantage of that. The shots fell and before I knew it I was already at 40 points."

Grayslake Central update:

The Rams had a strong start at Thanksgiving going 3-1 with wins against Hononegah (65-40), Crystal Lake Central (61-29) and Belvidere North (60-21). Central's only loss was to Hampshire 48-44 in overtime.

The Rams wrapped up the tournament with back-to-back under-30-point defensive performances.

"Back-to-back games holding teams under 30 points was impressive defense," Central coach Brian Centella noted. "One thing that has impressed me has been the consistent defensive effort."

The Rams have spread the wealth on offense with three different players leading the team in scoring in the four tournament games.

Centella said Dennis Estepp, Jake Gibson and Sam Cooper all turned in great individual performances throughout the tournament.

Vernon Hills update:

They had to go to the tiebreaking system and Vernon Hills came out on top as the champion of the Battle at the Ridge Thanksgiving tournament. Coach Matt McCarty explained there was a three-way tie for first place and the Cougars won the free-throw percentage tiebreaker. Vernon Hills beat Chicago Amundsen 48-45, Northridge Prep 60-39, lost to Wheeling 64-45 and beat Chicago Bowen 53-30.

Senior Milan Raval was named to the all-tournament.

In terms of glaring positives to start the season, tournament tiebreaker should be mentioned.

"I guess it would have to be free-throw percentage since it helped us win the tourney," McCarty said. "We shot 67% from the foul line. I told the team I would like to see us push that to 70% or better as we progress into conference play."

McCarty liked his squad's balanced scoring in the tournament, particularly in the game against Northridge Prep. "They always play a very tough zone defense and we had seven different players score with Milan leading the way with 31 points," he pointed out.

Sophomore Anthony Morgan had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in the Northridge win.

Senior 6-5 center Nolan Lazor has transitioned well from football to basketball in the early going.

"Nolan looked very comfortable around the basket and provided us with much-needed interior scoring and defense despite spending all fall as our starting quarterback," McCarty noted.

McCarty also is high on the play of junior point guard Dylan Chung. "Dylan did an excellent job in his first varsity games directing the offense and getting us organized," he said. "He played with poise and did a nice job distributing the ball to open guys on the perimeter."

Carmel update:

Carmel took third at the Mundelein/Grant tournament, going 3-1. Carmel, Deerfield and Mundelein each went 2-1 in pool play so by plus-minus the Corsairs ended up second in the pool and ended up with a crossover game against Grant, which they won 64-36. Carmel also beat Deerfield 51-49, Lakes 73-49 and lost to Mundelein 56-48.

James Dwyer was an all-tournament selection for Carmel and coach Dmitry Pirshin felt Kalob Jackson played well enough to earn a spot as well.

Pirshin noted Carmel started to take off shooting-wise as the tournament progressed with both 2-point and 3-point outputs taking a strong stride forward.

"When we started to shoot better, we were much better," he said. "We play hard and play together, however we have to play smarter. Going 15-for-29 on 3s against Lakes was impressive and holding Grant to 7 points in the second half was impressive, and also pulling out a close game against Deerfield. Finally, Kalob's ability to pass is great. Bryce Smith wasn't healthy this summer and all fall, so it was hard to tell if he was going to show up, but he did."

Jackson also had two games of 23 points and 25 points. Pirshin also liked how James Dwyer and Peter Stavros played. "After a first-game slump, James picked it up and has been shooting like we expected," he said. "Peter may not be scoring, but does so much for us and plays the most. He is usually assigned to guard the best players on other teams."

Grant update:

The Bulldogs split four games over the holiday, taking fourth in the tournament it co-hosts with Mundelein. Grant lost to Warren 57-42, defeated Chicago Schurz 69-47, defeated Chicago Noble-Cromer 68-40 and lost to Carmel 64-36.

Sophomore Braylon Gray and junior Ayden Sheppard were named to the all-tournament team.

Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said his team is able to draw fouls and then take advantage of getting fouled by performing well at the line. Grant is shooting 77% from the foul strip and averaging just more than 16 throws per game.

The Bulldogs start four underclassmen, including all-tourney picks Gray and Sheppard.

"This is a young group," Bosworth said. As this group gains experience, this is a team that is going to get better very fast and has already had nice flashes of being a veteran, experienced group."

Gray is averaging more than 16 points per game and is draining 50% of his shots. Sheppard is averaging 13 points and shooting 48% from the floor. Bosworth added junior Pryde Mendoza could easily have been all-tournament after averaging 11 points per game while shooting 55 percent from inside the arc.

Warren update:

The Blue Devils won the Mundelein-Grant tournament with a perfect 4-0 mark.

Sophomore Jack Wolf (6-3) and junior Alex Daniels (6-5) were all-tournament selections.

In the notable stat section, coach Zack Ryan pointed out Warren took 13 charges in the four games. He's also been pleased with the defensive effort thus far. "I have been impressed with their ability to buy into playing defense," he said.

Wolf went for 24 points on the strength of six 3s in the second game of the tournament, while junior Josh Stewart had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the title game against Mundelein. Sophomore Javerion Banks led the team with 18 points in the season-opener against Grant.

Lake Zurich update:

The Bears were 2-1 and took second at the Maine West tournament.

"I like how we share the basketball and our aggressive nature defensively," Bears coach Terry Coughlin said. "The kids have played so well together and have been tough."

Brendan Powers was an all-tournament selection.

"Brendan is our lone returning starter and is averaging more than 20 points a game," Coughlin noted. "He been a calming and reassuring presence for our younger players."

Nick Popovic and sophomore center Anton Strelnikov also have been notable out of the gates. "Nick has helped handle the ball and has a great feel for the game," Coughlin explained. "Anton has done a great job scoring and providing us an inside presence."

Lakes update:

The Eagles were 1-3 at Grant/Mundelein with a 65-50 loss to Mundelein, a 48-45 loss to Deerfield, a 62-27 loss to Carmel and a 62-27 win over Chicago Schurz.

Brock Martino was an all-tournament pick after averaging 11.8 points and 4 rebounds per game.

Lakes coach Chris Snyder said keys going forward are turnover reduction and ancillary to that, taking care of the ball.

Individually, Snyder noted Jimmy Kania is off to a great start. He's Lakes' second-leading scorer at 11.5 points and leads the team in rebounding at 5 per game. "Jimmy has been a very vocal leader for us," he said. "He is defending well and is our leading rebounder."

Sixth man Cooper Lopriore provides a spark off the bench. "Cooper is doing the little things for us and is a versatile player who can play any of the guard spots for us," Snyder noted.

Tyler Anderson leads the Eagles in 3-point shooting. "Tyler has picked up where he left off last year and is also leading us in our hustle stats we keep," Snyder said.

Antioch update:

Antioch tied for third at Thanksgiving, defeating St. Viator 60-52, and dropping contests to Prospect (69-41), Evanston (46-30) and Libertyville (48-34).

The St. Viator win was the Sequoits' first road win in the first game of the season. Coach Sean Connor pointed out Antioch didn't win a road game until February last year.

Connor added in the four games, Antioch did not have the same starting lineup, "yet we are still competing well on defense and keeping us in games," he said.

Jordan DeVaughn had a strong start to his season after not playing a year ago. "Jordan came off the bench and started for us while playing multiple positions," Connor said.

Carter Webb has improved his shooting game, Connor added. "Carter worked incredibly hard on his shot mechanics in the offseason and it's paying off," he said.

And Colby Priller is another Sequoits player poised to make even more contributions as the season wears on. "Colby is slowly finding his role on the team and will become a versatile threat as we continue to improve," Connor said.

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