Every basketball coach wants their team to start fast and finish strong.
Cary-Grove certainly adhered to that philosophy Thursday night.
Combining to outscore Grayslake North 31-9 in the first and fourth quarters, the Trojans were able to cruise to a 53-37 Fox Valley Conference crossover boys basketball win at Cary.
"Our defense did a great of defending," said Trojan coach Ralph Schueltze. "We rotated on their shooters and didn't give them many good shots. We did a good job of slowing them down."
The Trojans' stifling defense was on display in the first quarter. Grayslake North, which made only 1-of-10 shots, trailed Cary-Grove 10-2 after 8 minutes.
After allowing the Knights (3-2) the first basket of the game on a 12-footer by AJ Fish, the Trojans (4-1) scored the final 10 points of the quarter.
Grayslake North whittled away at the Cary-Grove lead and actually outscored the Trojans 28-22 in the second and third quarters. A basket by Fish late in the quarter pulled the Knights within 2 of the Trojans, 32-20, after 24 minutes. That would be as close as Grayslake North would get.
Cary-Grove seized control of the game to start the fourth quarter as Matt Motzel buried a pair of 3-pointers to extend the Trojans' 2-point lead to 8, 38-30, with 6:25 remaining in the game.
"Those two 3-pointers were huge by Matt," said Schueltze. "You look up on the scoreboard and you are up 8 instead of 2."
The Trojans wrapped up the win as sophomore Jason Gregoire canned 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 2 minutes. Gregoire, who was the backup quarterback on the Trojans' Class 6A runner-up football team, was playing in his first varsity game of his career.
He ended the game with a game-high 15 points which included a 3-pointer.
"I was a little nervous at the line because the game was pretty close," said Gregoire. "I just tried to stay focused and concentrate. I have had only three practices so I am still getting used to basketball."
Gregoire was joined in double digits by Motzel and Steve Plazak with 11 points each.
Fish and Danny Mateling paced the Knights with 9 apiece.
"The game came down to decision making and we didn't make good decisions," said North coach Todd Grunloh. "We were very impatient offensively and our shot selection wasn't very good. We would get close and have a mental lapse. (Cary-Grove) played a much better team game than we did."