Waubonsie Valley rattles Grayslake Central with smothering defense

Withering, stifling and relentless are a few adjectives which aptly describe Waubonsie Valley’s defensive pressure.

There are likely more that could be used. Just as it appears to opponents that the Warriors are operating with more than five players on the floor with their length and quickness.

Just ask defending Hinkle Holiday Classic champion Grayslake Central after it had 23 turnovers converted into 32 points by top-seeded Waubonsie in a 62-21 semifinal romp Wednesday night at Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

“We come out looking to punch teams in the mouth early,” said Waubonsie junior guard Tyreek Coleman after he had 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” said Waubonsie senior swingman Tre Blissett, who had 14 points and 3 assists, “and played together from the get-go.”

And Waubonsie (12-0) got out to the first 8 points and was on its way to Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. title game against No. 2 Lake Zurich (11-3), a 67-52 winner over No. 3 Crystal Lake South in the other semifinal. Fifth-seeded Grayslake Central (9-4), which plays for third at 6 p.m., committed 7 turnovers before taking its first shot.

“They really did a great job of using their length and athleticism,” said Central coach Brian Centella. “They never allowed us to find any sort of offensive rhythm.”

When Central did find shots it hit only 26.7 percent (8-for-30) from the field and 2-for-14 on 3-pointers. Waubonsie’s top seven of the 6-foot-5 Blissett, 6-4 Moses Wilson, 6-3 Matt Sessom, 6-2 Ryan Morton and Elijah Whitaker, 6-1 Coleman and 6-6 Cade Valek seemed impenetrable whether it turned up the heat with its ball press full- or half-court.

“After a couple of turnovers, when we see them get down we start to go even harder,” Blissett said.

“We try to keep hands up and stay in the passing lanes,” Coleman said. “With me, Moses and Tre up top it’s hard to get straight-line passes.”

And there was no letup by the Warriors after winning their first two Hinkle games by 38 and 36 points.

“I told them coming into the game when we play with energy and fly around we’re a completely different team offensively and defensively,” said Waubonsie coach Andrew Schweitzer of his team that came in allowing just 38 points a game. “We did it (Tuesday) night and the challenge is to stack games and do it every game. It’s a credit to the kids because they just got after it on that end.

“Grayslake Central is a well-coached team and you can see it on film. I didn’t think it would be like this tonight and that’s a credit to the kids and how hard they played.”

Waubonsie hit 9 of its first 11 shots after halftime for a 49-19 lead with 7:26 to play and finished at 59 percent (23-for-39) from the field. Central junior Xavi Granville, who averaged 25 points in the first two tourney games, had a team-high 7 on 2-for-6 shooting.

“I told the guys in the locker room that’s why you play in a good holiday tournament,” Centella said. “That’s how you learn and grow as a team. Not only is Waubonsie athletic but you can tell they’re really well-coached.”

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