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Article updated: 11/24/2012 11:49 PM
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Flexibly, Grayslake North tops Grant for 3rd
 

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Flexibly, Grayslake North tops Grant for 3rd
 

Through four games of Thanksgiving tournament play, Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh used four different starting lineups.

"It was just about trying to figure out what works," Grunloh said. "You're just trying to get your best lineup."

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Grunloh might not need to try a fifth different lineup.

The Knights had a pretty good chemistry going Saturday night against Grant in the third-place game of the Richmond-Burton/Johnsburg Thanksgiving tournament.

Grayslake North took a 17-point lead into halftime, thanks to a big second quarter. Midway through the third quarter, the advantage ballooned to as many as 21 points.

Despite a furious Grant rally in the fourth quarter, Grayslake North stayed in control en route to a 68-57 victory.

The Knights improve to 3-1 on the season while Grant drops to 2-2.

"We're a really deep team and we have a lot of options for starters," said Grayslake North senior forward AJ Fish, who has been in the starting lineup for all four games. "We might start different guys in the second quarter than we do in the first."

Added senior guard Danny Mateling, another constant in the starting lineup: "Our starting lineup also has to do with who we're facing. If it's a big team it might be one lineup. If it's a small team it might be a different lineup."

After a sluggish first quarter that ended in a 10-10 tie, the Knights kicked it into gear with what might be known from here on out as their fast lineup. They forced 6 Grant turnovers and scored five baskets off of fastbreak layups.

Grayslake North out-scored Grant 21-4 in the second quarter and took a 31-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Fish, who finished with a game-high 22 points, had 9 points in the second quarter while senior forward Anthony Winfield, who was rotated into the starting lineup for this game, added 6 points.

"We did a good job in the second quarter of getting rebounds and looking up court," said Grunloh, who also got 19 points out of Mateling. "Our transition, for the first time in the tournament, really got us some points.

"We were also getting stops and it just snowballed from there. You could see Grant losing confidence and our kids took that and ran with it."

Grant connected on just 2-of-16 field goal attempts in the second quarter.

"The first half was really hard and in the locker room everyone was really quiet," said Grant junior forward Steve Dunning, who scored a team-high 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half. "The coaches talked to us about what went wrong and how we needed to fix it and then they left. They told us that we needed to settle this ourselves and hype each other up.

"We were yelling things to get each other pumped up and we were saying that we needed to get tough."

The Bulldogs finally showed some toughness in the fourth quarter.

They took a 14-point deficit into the fourth quarter. But Dunning (7 points in the fourth quarter), senior forward Tom Blanchette (6 points) and junior guard Ryan Noda (4 point) had big finishes. They were part of an 8-2 run at the beginning of the quarter that cut the Grant deficit to 8 points with about six minutes remaining.

"We're going to try to take something (positive) out of that (rally)," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. "But it was just too big a hole. In that first half, (Grayslake North) outplayed us all over the court, offensively, defensively, everywhere.

"At halftime, we talked about getting more effort, and you've got to give some of our guys a lot of credit. They came out in the second half and they didn't lay down."

Blanchette finished the game with 15 points while Noda had 9 points, 7 of which came in the second half. Senior forward Frank Tokarz came off the bench and scored all 8 of his points in the second half.

Meanwhile, Grayslake North also got 8 points apiece out of Winfield and senior guard Nick Carmody.

"I think we've started off really well, a lot better than last season," Mateling said. "We feel really good about where we are right now."

Mateling and Fish were both named to the all-tournament team, as was Blanchette.

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