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Article updated: 2/18/2012 12:42 AM
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Grayslake Central rolls by Johnsburg
 

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Grayslake Central rolls by Johnsburg
  • Grayslake Central's Skyler Jessop drives the lane to shoot against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday.

    Purchase Photo | Grayslake Central's Skyler Jessop drives the lane to shoot against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday. George Leclaire | Staff Photographer

  •  Grayslake Central's Claire Brennan drives the lane past Johnsburg defender Stephanie Cherwin for a layup in Class 3A regional final play Friday.

    Purchase Photo | Grayslake Central's Claire Brennan drives the lane past Johnsburg defender Stephanie Cherwin for a layup in Class 3A regional final play Friday. George Leclaire | Staff Photographer

  •  Grayslake Central's Claire Brennan shoots a free throw against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday.

    Purchase Photo | Grayslake Central's Claire Brennan shoots a free throw against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday. George Leclaire | Staff Photographer

  •  Grayslake Central's Morgan Dahlstrom pulls in an offensive rebound against Johnsburg defender Stephanie Cherwin in Class 3A regional final play Friday.

    Purchase Photo | Grayslake Central's Morgan Dahlstrom pulls in an offensive rebound against Johnsburg defender Stephanie Cherwin in Class 3A regional final play Friday. George Leclaire | Staff Photographer

  •  Grayslake Central's Morgan Dahlstrom shoots against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday.

    Purchase Photo | Grayslake Central's Morgan Dahlstrom shoots against Johnsburg in Class 3A regional final play Friday. George Leclaire | Staff Photographer

 

A flailing hand caught Skyler Jessop in the face late in the third quarter, dazed Grayslake Central's rugged senior and ended her night prematurely.

Small lump aside, it was nothing to worry about.

Story Continues Below

"She's fine. She just got a little love tap in the head," Rams coach Steve Ikenn said with a laugh. "She was coming out (permanently) in like 30 seconds anyway."

Johnsburg's night ended much earlier Friday.

Grayslake Central scored the game's first dozen points, held its opponent scoreless until 25 seconds remained in the opening quarter and cruised to a 43-18 win in the teams' Class 3A regional final at Wauconda.

Jessop led all scorers with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and Claire Brennan added 10, as Grayslake Central (25-5) won its second regional title in a row and advanced to Tuesday's 6 p.m. sectional semifinal against Grayslake North at St. Viator. Grayslake North denied St. Viator a chance to play the sectional on its home court by beating the Lions 52-44 in the Chicago Northside regional final.

Grayslake Central, which has beaten Grayslake North twice in as many meetings, defeated Johnsburg (10-21) for the third time.

"(If) you come out and play them hard, and you play well, you got a little bit of a chance," Skyhawks coach Brad Frey said. "But I think we had four or five of the first few possessions where we just threw (the ball) away."

Jessop and Brennan both hit 3-pointers to stake the Rams to their early lead, and Johnsburg committed 9 of its 26 turnovers in the first quarter.

"We talked about how we wanted to come out and set a tone," said Ikenn, who's 53-9 in his two seasons with the Rams. "We wanted to just shut them down from the beginning. I was really proud of how we did."

In the closing seconds of the third, Jessop got a scare when she penetrated the lane and got smacked just below her forehead as she dished the ball off.

"(The Johnsburg player) went to block the ball, but I passed it, and she like blocked my face," said Jessop, able to laugh about it. "I'm good."

Grayslake Central's defense against Johnsburg in three games this season: stellar.

The Rams held the Skyhawks to 19 and 34 points in the teams' two regular-season games. Johnsburg shot 7 of 37 in Friday's contest.

"Our defense, all year, has been our strongest thing," Jessop said. "We were hitting shots tonight, but sometimes you just don't hit shots."

Jessop's two 3s and Michelle Lettemair's three-point play highlighted the third quarter for the Rams, who ran off 14 straight points after Johnsburg opened the half with a 3 by Kallie DiTusa and baseline shot by Stephanie Cherwin (7 points) to pull within 22-12.

But Johnsburg's offense stalled after that.

"(Defense) is what our coach has us focus on in practices because sometimes you have bad offensive games," Lettenmair said. "But you can always play the hardest defense possible."

"I thought our defense was great," Ikenn said. "We boxed out well, we forced a ton of turnovers, and we were only playing half-court man. If we can continue to play defense like that, that will keep us in every game."

Rams center Morgan Dahlstrom added 6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. The sophomore twice fed Beth Arnold for baskets in the third quarter.

"She's a really good all-around player," Ikenn said of Dahlstrom, a first-year starter who was up on varsity all last season. "I think she's really underrated."

Frey knows there are several reasons why the Rams went undefeated through the Fox Valley Fox Division.

"Offensively, they're the best team I've seen," Johnsburg's coach said. "They just run good stuff."

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