Grayslake Central downs Wauconda, stays perfect in NLCC
There's nothing like weeknight prep basketball.
Especially when a large contingent of band members - unusual for a Tuesday night - are doing their best to fire up the fans with their music and enthusiasm.
"I really think the band brings a lot of positive energy to the team and the crowd," said Wauconda senior drum major Alexa Lis, as the Bulldogs welcomed Grayslake Central for a
Northern Lake County Conference matchup.
"It's really fun for the players, it keeps the energy up and keeps them going," added Lis. "Gives them a little extra, and it's important to me to be positive whenever we can."
Unfortunately though for Wauconda, despite the added motivation from the band, the Bulldogs couldn't keep up with the visiting Rams.
Grayslake Central came into the game undefeated in conference, and improved to 7-0 in the NLCC (11-8 overall) with a tightly-contested 37-25 girls basketball win.
Wauconda trailed by just 2 late in the third quarter, but the Rams pulled away in the final period behind the stellar performance of 6-foot sophomore Madison Hoffmann.
Hoffmann scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in the fourth.
"It was definitely a struggle but we kept our composure," said Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn. "I've got to give Wauconda credit - Jaime (Bulldogs coach Dennis) always has them prepared.
"They play hard and they play good defense, and they made us work for our points."
The defensive-minded game was tight throughout the first half. A jump shot in the paint from GC sophomore Katelyn Marcelain, then two free throws by Hoffmann put the Rams up 15-12 at halftime.
Grayslake Central extended the lead after intermission, but Wauconda rallied and a drive and bucket from Bulldogs freshman Alexia Manalo brought the home team to within 22-20 just before the third quarter buzzer.
Then 5 straight points to start the fourth by Hoffmann pushed the Rams farther ahead.
"Once we started moving the ball," said Rams sophomore guard Annie Wolff, "we were able to incorporate everyone into our plays, and we were able to find our teammates open."
Coach Ikenn agreed, saying that "we stayed calm, moved the ball, got Madison involved more and turned up the defensive pressure inside. We played really good "D"."
The contest was still in doubt late in the final stanza when Hoffmann got a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup, then hit two more buckets to seal the win.
"Her shots weren't falling early," said Ikenn of Hoffmann, "but they were falling late. Her teammates found her in good spots and she was able to finish."
Grace Parker led the Bulldogs (9-7, 4-3) with 9 points and played a strong all-around game. Teammate Kayla McCarthy paced an inspired Wauconda effort on the boards with 9 rebounds.
Marcelain and Wolff each pitched in with 6 points for GC.
"I thought our guard play was key for us tonight in terms of handling the ball," said Ikenn. "We kept our turnovers down and put defensive pressure on their guards, and made them burn some time on possessions."