Defense means a great deal to Grayslake Central's girls basketball team.
The Rams would like to keep their opponents under 40 in each game this season.
Grayslake Central followed its game plan to a "D" and earned a 46-35 victory over host Maine South in the Bison Classic on Tuesday night in Park Ridge.
"It's the chemistry and the hard work," Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. "They've seen how successful we can be when we play good defense. Now we've got the offense going, too. It goes hand in hand.
" They like looking up at the scoreboard knowing that they did a better job defensively, especially holding a team like Maine South to 35 points."
Morgan Dahlstrom led the Rams (4-0, 3-0 in the tournament) with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Carson Sparkman and Lauren Spalding each chipped in with 11 points.
"The last couple of games, our defense has stepped up again," said Ikenn, whose Rams held Libertyville to 39 points in a recent victory. "Over the last two, we've been able to hold them under 40. That's our goal, always.
"(Maine South) is always a tough team. They kept coming back and made little runs. I told the girls you can bend, but don't break -- and they didn't."
Dahlstrom scored 7 points in the first quarter, helping the Rams to a 10-3 lead. But it was her defense that was the difference, as she got 3 of her 5 blocks in the first eight minutes.
"Our whole mentality of the team is defense,," Dahlstrom said. "We work on a lot of defensive drills.
"It's even for me between defense and scoring. It's not one or the other. I just keep myself calm and defend."
Grayslake Central's defensive stance remained firm as the Rams led 18-10 at halftime.
Dahlstrom scored 7 more points in the third quarter, including a lay-up in the final seconds that extended the lead to 33-19.
Maine South (2-2, 1-2) made a run in the fourth quarter with 6 straight points and cut the lead to 33-25 on Hailey Schoneman's lay up with 6:08 left.
But Grayslake Central wouldn't let Maine South get any closer. Dahstrom hit a short-range jump shot that started a 10-0 Rams run. Sparkman made a lay up and 4 free throws and Connor Eschrich capped the run with a rebound and putback for a 43-25 advantage with 3:58 remaining.
"Give some credit to Grayslake Central," Maine South coach Mark Smith said. "But we didn't play that well. We just didn't execute.
"We got close, we set up a defense and couldn't execute that and (Grayslake Central) was able to get away from us."
Grayslake Central next meets Barrington (3-0) at 2 p.m. Friday at Buffalo Grove.