Grayslake Central getting hot at the right time
Coach Steve Ikenn's Grayslake Central girls basketball squad has had the hot Lake County hand of late.
The Rams have run off victories against Warren (37-35), Grayslake North (36-30), Grant (53-43), Antioch (53-31), Vernon Hills (38-24) and Lakes (47-37) to move to 12-15 overall and 10-2 in Northern Lake County action.
The Rams take on Wauconda Saturday, while conference leader Round Lake (11-1 in NLCC) plays Lakes. If GC and RL both win, the NLCC title will be on the line next Tuesday at Round Lake.
Carissa Guerrier had a career-high 20 points for the Rams in their win against Grant. Madison Hoffmann had 18 points and 10 rebounds in that same Grant game. Monica Schleg had a season-high 14 points against Antioch, while Hoffmann posted another double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Vernon Hills win.
Ikenn said Guerrier, Hoffmann and Schleg have stepped it up on the offensive end of late, each averaging between 12 and 15 points per game over the last week.
"As a team we have been doing a much better job of taking care of the ball, getting good shots, and defensively we have been forcing more turnovers," said Ikenn, who took his 2019-2020 team to the Elite Eight in Class 3A.
The wins keep coming for the Class 4A top-ranked Patriots, who are now 27-1 overall and undefeated in the North Suburban Conference at 13-0, having clinched the conference title.
Stevenson recently defeated Associated Press Class 4A No. 5 Chicago Kenwood in a nonconference tilt. In that game, Simone Sawyer had a career-high 34 points, while Emory Klatt had 10 points and 19 rebounds. The 19 boards tied the program single-game record. Also of note, freshman Nisha Musunuri had 13 points.
"Nisha was put in the starting lineup at the last minute against Kenwood due to Ava Baric being out," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham explained. "She played with tremendous poise and confidence. She went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line and certainly did not play like a freshman. She seized her opportunity and made the most of her minutes. I am proud of her approach."
Graham also loves the way Klatt continues to play. "Emory continues to impress with her tremendous ability to rebound on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball," Graham said. "I believe she really showed what a high-level player she is in that win against Kenwood. She was physical, finished at the rim and played with a tremendous amount of effort in crashing the glass and boxing out. She showed her athleticism and strength really is unmatched as just a sophomore."
Klatt averages 13.4 points, 11 rebounds and is shooting 52 percent from the floor, while Sawyer is at 15.4 points and is shooting 38 percent from 3. Kate Arne has 44 blocked shots (1.6 per game.
Vernon Hills update:
A win on Friday against Maine East will guarantee Vernon Hills sole possession of second place in the Central Suburban North. The Cougars were 11-13 overall and 7-2 in conference play through midweek. Deerfield is undefeated in the conference.
Vernon Hills will honor lone senior CJ Leuck on Friday for senior night. "CJ is the only one that has made a four-year commitment to our program," coach Paul Brettner said. "She is injured after having hip surgery, but she continues to be a big part of our team."
Vernon Hills scored a pair of recent close victories over Maine West. "They are the first-ever wins against that program, which makes them very big for us," Brettner noted.
Brettner cited strong play from recent varsity call-up Caylie Zahnow. "Caylie was called up from the JV team in early January and she has made a successful jump to varsity," he said.
In a recent loss to Rolling Meadows, Zahnow led the Cougars with 17 points.
Round Lake update:
Recent wins over Grant and Antioch put the Panthers at 24-3 overall and 11-1 in Northern Lake County play.
Amari Cole had 21 points and 10 rebounds against Grant, while Lilli Burton had 19 points and 10 assists. Taylor Major added 16 points and 9 rebounds.
"It's fun to watch Amari, Lilli and Taylor offensively as they are such unselfish players who are always willing to make the extra pass," Round Lake coach Molly Hennig said. "They have meshed well as the season has progressed and are hard to stop."
Sophomore Judith Cerroblanco, Hennig noted, has been another key for the Panthers this season. "Judith is a sophomore who plays big minutes for us each game," she said. "She is such a vocal teammate, which helps propel our defense. She does a lot of the little things that help turn into big plays or defensive stops."
Cerroblanco hit a key basket and had 9 rebounds against Grant.
Burton averages 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists, and also has sank 42 3-pointers this season, drawing further congratulations from her coach. "Lilli continues to improve throughout her junior season," Hennig said. "She came up big for us against Grant with 10 assists to go with her 19 points. It's exciting to think about how much she's already grown in three years and that she'll be back for another year."
The Eagles dropped recent Northern Lake County games to Antioch, Wauconda and Grayslake Central. Janae Pullen had 20 points against Wauconda.
Grayslake North update:
The Knights were 10-17 overall and 4-8 in NLCC action through midweek. North downed North Chicago 53-5 in a recent league game where Peyton Gerdes had 17 points. Reagan Kuzynowski had 9 points and Dani Hanson had 8 points.
In a loss to Wauconda, Gerdes came back with a game-high 27 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Coach Roger Lass pointed to improved play from Makayla Campbell, who has averaged 6 points over her last four games, "and is steadily improving," he said.