Just win, baby.
Usually, that's the only assignment there is in sports.
But on Saturday night, the Northridge Prep boys basketball team had to also win the numbers game.
The Knights had to make sure that the scoreboard not only had them ahead, but that it also never showed Grant with more than 67 points.
With a 65-52 victory over the host Bulldogs in the final game of the 7th annual Grant Holiday Tournament, Northridge Prep won the five-day round-robin tournament championship with a 4-1 record.
Had Grant scored 67 or more points on the Knights, then Grayslake North would have taken the tournament title instead, even if the Knights had beaten Grant.
Because Northridge Prep, Grayslake North and McHenry all finished the tournament with 4-1 records and lost only to each other, the championship was decided on the first tiebreaker: points allowed.
Northridge Prep, which improves to 12-2 on the season and last won the Grant Holiday title in 2008, allowed just 218 points for the tournament while second-place Grayslake North was at 233 and third-place McHenry was at 244.
"We had a good idea that if we played solid we could win it (the tournament," said Northridge Prep senior center James Stoll, who scored a game-high 28 points against Grant and was named the tournament most valuable player. "This is so great. We played our butts off. We played tough defense. And we kept our poise. We didn't let them get the best of us."
Grant, which drops to 7-9 on the season and finished 2-3 in the tournament for fourth place, tried to fluster Northridge Prep with a harried press in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs entered the quarter down 9 points and cut that down to 5 points thanks to some steals and some Northridge Prep miscues. But Stoll scored three straight baskets in the final minutes and then the Knights knocked down six straight free throws to cinch the victory.
"We got a little shaky there for a few minutes, but overall, I thought we handled the ball really well when they got after us," Northridge Prep coach Will Rey said. "We composed ourselves, we took care of the basketball, made the passes we needed to make and we got some open layups."
In addition to Stoll, Northridge Prep also got double-figure points out of senior guard Jesus Zermeno and senior forward Will Strenk. Zermeno, who made the all-tournament team, finished with 15 points while Strenk had 14 points.
"Our defense is what we need to work on because defense wins games," Grant junior guard Mike Burns said. "We're not containing guys or the ball very well."
Burns, who recently returned to action after sitting out with a broken hand, scored 13 points, tying teammate Ryan Noda for team-high scoring honors. Senior forward Tom Blanchette also finished in double-figures with 11 points while junior forward Steve Dunning, who made the all-tournament team, added 9 points.
The Bulldogs' balanced offense was overshadowed by their woes on the boards. Despite a height advantage, Grant got out-rebounded by Northridge Prep, 31-19
"They just played more physical than us," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said of Northridge Prep. "I thought they pushed us around and they played harder for us going for the boards and that can't happen.
"The other big thing for us right now is composure. We don't keep our composure when things go south and you've got to be prepared for that because every good team is going to make a run at you."
The eight-player Grant Holiday all-tournament team included: Stoll (MVP) and Zermeno of Northridge Prep, Dunning and Keion Miller of Grant, Danny Mateling and AJ Fish of Grayslake North and Greg Johnson and Shane Varvil of McHenry.
Round Lake took fifth place in the tournament with a 1-4 record while Richmond-Burton was sixth with an 0-5 record.
Grayslake North 70, Round Lake 46: Grayslake North stormed out of the gate with a 20-point first quarter and never looked back in a decisive victory over Round Lake on the final day of the Grant Holiday Tournament.
The Knights, who took second place in the tournament, got a game-high 24 points out of senior guard AJ Fish, who also made the all-tournament team. Fellow senior guard Danny Mateling also made the all-tournament team. He finished with 14 points. The Knights also got 10 points out of senior center Ben Smith.
Round Lake was led by junior guard Karnell Wright, who scored 17 points. Senior forward Mark Jennings added 11 points for the Panthers.
McHenry 53, Richmond-Burton 40: McHenry finished strong and outscored Richmond-Burton by 10 points in the fourth quarter to blow open an otherwise close game on the final day of the Grant Holiday Tournament.
The Warriors, who finished in third place for the tournament, got a game-high 18 points out of senior forward Damian Zalewski. Teammates Shane Varvil and Greg Johnson, both of whom made the all-tournament team, scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
Senior guard Chris Vlasak led Richmond-Burton with 10 points.