After losing to North Chicago this past Friday after falling behind by 15 points in the first quarter, it was important to the Grant girls basketball team to get off to a good start Tuesday night.
That's exactly what the Bulldogs did, parlaying an 18-4 lead after one quarter into a 56-39 nonconference win in front of a sparse crowd at Dundee-Crown.
"We've been talking about that the past couple of days," said Grant coach Matt Lukemeyer of the fast start. "The past few games it's been the exact opposite."
The Bulldogs (3-5) jumped out to a 9-1 lead in less than three minutes on the strength of a 3-pointer from senior Deanna Rodriguez then back-to-back 3s from sophomore Jordyn Hundley.
"Our philosophy is to attack the basket and shoot open shots when we have them," said Lukemeyer. "They have the ability to make 3s."
Grant led 29-15 at halftime and made it a 35-15 game in the first three minutes of the third quarter before Dundee-Crown (1-8) woke up and played the Bulldogs pretty much even the rest of the way.
"We can't take two quarters to warm up," said first-year D-C coach Sarah Miller. "Give credit to Grant, they cam ready to play. We knew they had some athletic guards and shooters. We've been battling with consistency at times. We had great spurts but in the game of basketball you gotta play four quarters. The little things we talk about we didn't do."
The Chargers did go on a 7-0 run at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth to close to within 45-33, and they were still within striking distance after 2 free throws from senior Emily Michalski made it 48-35 with 2:35 to play. But then senior Kaylie Kanzler nailed a 3-pointer for Grant to make it 51-35 with 2:13 left on the clock and the Chargers never got closer.
"We had a tough loss to North Chicago and we've been down for awhile," said Kanzler, who had 25 points in the North Chicago loss. "We've had a lot of games where we haven't started great so it was nice to have a solid start tonight."
And to Lukemeyer it's nice to have a solid senior like Kanzler leading the way.
"We started three sophomores tonight," he said. "It's exciting for us to play like this with seniors like Kaylie leading us."
Sophomore Jasmine Sangster led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 4 assists. Kanzler (5 rebounds) and senior Julia Sangster each scored 8 points. Sophomore Taylor Drake had 7 rebounds to lead Grant, which was 23 of 56 shooting for the night, to a 41-29 edge on the boards.
Michalski led the Chargers with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Senior Jerreneka Baker had 9 points, all in the second half.
"We're making strides," said Miller. "It's just a matter of reverting back to old habits. We're focusing on building every game. We want to compete and give ourselves an opportunity to win and we're not losing focus."