Grayslake Central rallies past Lakes in battle of NLCC unbeatens

First place was on the line Wednesday night when Lakes took on Grayslake Central in a key battle in the Northern Lake County Conference.

The host Rams came in at 15-1 and 4-0 in conference play while the Eagles were 11-4 and 4-0.

Something had to give.

Lakes gave Grayslake Central a scare but the Rams came out the winner 55-45. The win broke the school record for consecutive victories.

Senior guard Sam Cooper scored 12 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. Dennis Estepp kept Grayslake afloat with 12 of his 18 in the first half.

""We can shoot," said Cooper. Our guys know how to get to the open spot. We knew we were going up a very good team in Lakes. When we fell behind we had to stay calm and confident."

"Sam is a real good player for us, " said Rams coach Brian Centella. "He's always improving and he plays with confidence."

With senior center Jake Gibson on the bench with foul trouble, the Eagles began to build on their 21-20 halftime lead.

Lakes scored the first 10 points of the quarter for a 31-20 lead with 4:56 remaining.

Centella put Gibson back in and the tide turned.

Grayslake North finished the quarter with a 20-7 run.

Cooper scored 7, Estrepp 6 and Kai Taylor 4.

The Rams kept the pressure on the Eagles forcing them into a 2-for-11 shooting quarter.

Gibson scored 5 of his 7 points, pulled down 5 of his 8 rebounds and blocked 2 of his 3 shots.

"I was just too emotional in the first half," said Gibson. "Coach told me to settle down and just play my game. My job was to stop Brock Marino."

Marino was held to 15 points. Cooper Lopriore backed him up with 11 points.

"I was in grade school when Grayslake had their great 98-99 season," said Centella. "It was like watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen."

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