Grayslake Central's 43-19 rebounding deficit in Saturday's nonconference game against visiting Glenbrook South looked bad on paper.
But it seemed to feel even worse in person.
"I'm surprised it was that close," Rams head coach Brian Moe said of the unflattering numbers on the boards. "They really beat us up on rebounds."
The offensive rebounds hurt the most. By hustling after missed shots, Glenbrook South got second chances on 18 possessions and capitalized often enough to run away with a 61-38 victory.
The Titans improve to 3-3 on the season while Grayslake Central falls to 1-4.
"The rebounds were huge," said Glenbrook South senior forward Justin Busiel, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds despite sitting much of the fourth quarter once the game got out of hand. "One of our philosophies is to be aggressive everywhere, especially on the boards. We have everyone crash, so we kind of expect (a rebounding advantage)."
Glenbrook South built up a commanding advantage at the start of the third quarter. Already up 27-19 at halftime, the Titans opened with a 15-3 run and were up by 20 points about four minutes in. Senior guard Matt Siegel scored 8 of his 9 points during that stretch.
"We came in at halftime and we weren't totally satisfied with our performance in the first half," said Glenbrook South coach Ben Widner, who also got 9 points and 12 rebounds from 6-foot-6 junior center Conor McCarthy, 8 points from senior guard Max Cohen and 7 points from junior guard Paul Jones. "We were a little bit sloppy offensively and defensively in the first half. But second half, we came out with much more of a purpose. Our guys were motivated to get us off to a good start in the third quarter."
The Titans did the same thing at the start of the fourth quarter, opening with a 14-4 run that pushed their cushion to 29 points.
Grayslake Central didn't help its cause. Besides having problems on the boards, the Rams also had a tough time making shots. In the second half, they connected on just 7-of-26 attempts, for a 27 percent clip.
"I know I missed a lot of shots," said Grayslake Central senior guard Danny Reed, who is one of the team's leading scorers but finished with just 5 points. "I got into some foul trouble and that took me out of the flow of the game. I tried to get back into it in the third quarter, but just couldn't make shots.
"We've got to come back at practice on Monday and get back at it. We all have to, but it's going to be tough. We're a really young team and we've got this huge learning curve we've got to get around."
Reed is essentially the only Grayslake Central player with any significant varsity experience.
"We're definitely in a learning process," said Moe, who got a team-high 8 points each out of junior forwards Alex Lennartz and Kevin Orozco. "We have one kid back who played varsity basketball and 13 other guys who have no idea what varsity basketball is like. There's going to be a lot of nights like tonight.
"It's a classroom right now. There's a lot of learning to do. We're trying to do algebra and we're having a tough time adding right now."