Grayslake Central was plodding along at a point-a-minute pace and trailing by 6 points late in the third quarter of its Fox Valley Conference boys basketball crossover at Dundee-Crown on Friday night.
So, the Rams decided to scramble defensively and trap their way out of their doldrums. It sparked a 22-point outburst in the final 10 minutes and they held on for a 44-41 victory in Carpentersville.
"In the third quarter we got into unison and played together and that's how we got back into the game," said Grayslake Central senior Charlie Anderson after scoring 16 of his game-high 18 points and hitting three 3-pointers in the second half.
"I feel when we pick up our energy on defense and put up our trap ... we get turnovers and that's what leads to transition points," said Rams junior David Llorens, who came off the bench to score 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting with two 3s. "That's when we're at our best."
Which the Rams (8-7) clearly weren't at for nearly three-quarters of the game. Sophomore starter Sam Ruhlmann was limited to playing the final 2:18 of the first half because of illness that knocked him out of three days of practice this week.
D-C (4-11) shot 10-for-21 from the field and Zach Pochop and Nick Munson (8 points) hit consecutive 3s for a 23-16 halftime lead. Munson's second 3 made it 28-22 when the Rams made their defensive adjustment to try and generate more offense.
"We wanted to do something to change it up a little bit," said Rams coach Brian Moe, "to try to get us moving, get a little more aggressive on D and get some easy baskets, because they played great D."
D-C committed 7 of its 16 turnovers as the Rams used a 15-6 burst to take the lead for good at 37-34 with 4:22 left when Malcolm Reed (4 assists) found Llorens for a layup.
"If we fix one thing, another gap opens up," said D-C coach Lance Huber, whose team shot just 4-for-15 from the field after halftime and was 9-for-20 overall on free throws. "If we don't turn the ball over we can't make shots. If we make shots we turn it over. We can't put it all together."
Anderson did in the second half by hitting his first two 3s and nailing another for a 40-35 lead at 3:15.
"Once he hits one, he's a streak shooter," Moe said.
"At halftime I realized I wasn't aggressive enough on offense and I passed up open looks," Anderson said of taking only 2 first-half shots. "Luckily my teammates got me the ball."
Anderson capped a minute delay game when he found Llorens for a layup and 42-36 lead at 2:06. Llorens missed the first six games with mono but said he's started to feel more comfortable on the court the last couple of weeks.
"Normally when you see that first shot go in, as a shooter you get hot," Llorens said. "I got confidence on offense after that."
But 4 consecutive missed free throws and a turnover kept the Rams from putting away the game. Pochop had a go-ahead 3 from the left corner spin in and out with eight seconds left.
Anderson split 2 free throws to set the final score with 6.7 seconds left but Cordero Parson rebounded the miss and called timeout at midcourt with 3.3 seconds left. Parson got an open 3 in the left corner off the inbound but it rimmed out.
"I thought we had good looks down the stretch and Grayslake Central gave us a chance to get the game to overtime," Huber said. "They fouled us and we couldn't convert there. It was one of those nights."