With his head coach at home resting, Hampshire guard Ryan Cork refused to rest.
Even during timeouts.
Never mind the senior's 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and flashy, behind-the-back, fourth-quarter assist in the Whip-Purs' 64-60 win over host Grayslake North in a Fox Valley Conference Fox Division thriller Friday night.
Cork coached, too.
"Ryan Cork took a really good leadership role tonight," said Whip-Purs head sophomore coach Todd Severns, who handled the varsity in place of hall-of-fame head coach Bob Barnett, who went home from school Friday ill. "One time he even asked me to call timeout, took the clipboard and diagramed something. But he did it in a very mature, positive way. Not to upstage me or whatever."
Despite the inspiring performance by Cork, sophomore Aidan Einloth and the host Knights nearly upstaged him, as they erased a 14-point, first-half deficit and held the lead midway through the fourth. Trailing 62-60 after Hampshire's Drew Doran (9 points off the bench) split 2 free throws with 21.8 seconds left, Grayslake North called timeout.
Einloth passed up a 3-point attempt on the wing, dribbled and pulled up from just outside the foul line. While getting bumped, he took a shot that fell well short of the basket in the final seconds as Grayslake North's bench loudly voiced its disapproval of the no-call. Per his coaches' instructions, Einloth had the option of shooting a 3-pointer if it was an open look or driving to the basket.
"I think his best shot was actually the 3, which was the second option on the play," Knights coach Todd Grunloh said. "I know our bench yelled, 'Foul,' but I asked him in (the locker room) and he said, 'I don't think I got fouled.' "
"I got a little sidetracked by the players next to me and couldn't get the full follow-through," said Einloth, who led the Knights with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. "In that type of situation, I don't think (the referees) had to call it."
Despite the absence of Barnett, Hampshire appeared unfazed throughout the game, especially at the start, as the visitors built an early lead, were up 21-13 after one quarter and held a 32-18 advantage after Matthew Bridges (21 points, 5 rebounds) hit a 3-pointer with 4:48 left before halftime.
"They completely outworked us the first eight minutes," Grunloh said.
"That's all Bob," Severns said of his players' effort. "My biggest job was to make sure I didn't screw them up and just get out of their way."
Severns explained that Barnett, who suffered a heart attack last year, went home during the day mainly for precautionary reasons.
"As far as we know, he wasn't feeling well and he went home," said Severns, a former head coach at Woodstock who taught the last five years at Round Lake. "He's home resting comfortably. As far as I know, it's nothing serious, he's going to be fine and should be back on Monday."
A putback by Dom DiProva (17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) put Grayslake North up 57-55 with 4:05 left in the fourth, but the Knights never went into "attack mode," as Grunloh called it. They got to the line only once in the final six minutes, with Einloth splitting a pair of free throws with 41 seconds left to pull the hosts within 61-60.
"I think we got a little passive," Grunloh said. "We were willing to settle for 3-pointers that didn't go in."
While the Knights laid back, Cork attacked.
On a fastbreak, he dished a pass behind his back to Ajiri Oghale (7 points), who finished the layup, was fouled and completed the three-point play to put the Whip-Purs up 58-57 with 3:15 left in the fourth.
Grunloh wasn't surprised by Cork's amazing assist.
"As good as he is as a shooter and getting to the basket, he's twice as good at passing," Grayslake North's coach said. "Very unselfish. Great player."
Cork's 2 free throws with 1.8 seconds left finished off the win for Hampshire (6-9, 2-1). Grayslake North (4-8, 2-2) saw its three-game winning streak snapped. The Knights started the season by losing their first four games in the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton tournament.
"We've played pretty solid the last eight games," said Grunloh, whose squad returned only player, Einloth, who logged heavy varsity minutes on a 16-win team last season.
"We've had a whole bunch of different people contributing," Einloth said. "It's different every game. We don't have to rely on certain people every game. It's a team thing."