Cary-Grove holds off Grant

Cary-Grove’s lead had shrunk from comfortable in the third quarter to precarious in the fourth after Grant guard Braylon Gray netted his fourth 3-pointer to hack the advantage to a single point.

The Trojans called timeout to set up a play, which coach Adam McCloud designed for a player who had not yet hit a field goal.

Forward Ryan Elbert, who was 0 for 3 on 3-pointers, had no problem this time. Guard Jake Hornok delivered a pass along the baseline to the left corner, and Elbert swished it through. The sigh of relief on C-G’s side was almost palpable.

There was 2:30 remaining in the game, but Grant could not get that close again as the Trojans closed out a 54-48 victory in Jacobs’ Hinkle Holiday Classic on Wednesday at the Eagles’ Nest.

The victory sends C-G (7-8) into the fifth-place game against Barrington at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Hornok led the Trojans with 26 points and hit 11 of 12 free throws. His pass as he was falling out of bounds to Elbert led to the game’s biggest hoop.

“I had a cold start, a cold game, but coach gave me the confidence, he drew up the play for me to shoot that shot, and I got in the corner and hit it,” Elbert said. “It’s drawn up to give me a back screen in the corner. Jake drove to the baseline and the defense went toward him. It was really relieving, I was really happy I made it.”

C-G made some adjustments to the play.

“We tried to run it earlier and they were switching,” Hornok said. “We did it a little different and tried to capitalize on their tendencies and we made the play.”

Hornok had 14 points at halftime and the Trojans built their lead to 40-30 on his two free throws with 3:57 to go in the third. Grant (7-7) edged its way back into the game with help from its fullcourt pressure and two 3s from Gray in the fourth.

“We’re still trying to turn that corner consistently,” Bulldogs coach Wayne Bosworth said. “We have flashes of doing some really nice things but we need to take the next step of being able to execute every possession.

“Our guys did a nice job with our press in the second half and I feel like that took Cary-Grove out of their rhythm to get us back in it. Give C-G credit though, they were able to buckle down and execute and secure the win down the stretch.”

After Elbert’s big bucket, the Trojans hit 6 of 8 free throws in the final minutes to seal the outcome. It was a nice bounceback for C-G, which let a late lead slip away Wednesday in a quarterfinal loss to Grayslake Central.

“We’ve had a bunch of those where we’ve been in position,” McCloud said. “A lot of it’s being in that position and knowing what to do. Yesterday we let the moment be too big for us. From being in that moment, we were a little more calm.

“We made some mistakes, but we felt confident. Ryan Elbert made a big shot, he missed his last two, but I felt if we executed it, we made an adjustment on their switching screens, we got a great look, Jake made a great pass. That gave us a little bit of breathing room. We played great defense tonight.”

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