2017-'18 Season Coverage
posted: 1/18/2014 12:01 AM

Grant finds a way in OT against Vernon Hills

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Running is Grant's game.

Hitting 3-pointers is what Vernon Hills does.

However, on Friday night, neither Grant nor Vernon Hills sustained themselves on their usual bread and butter.

Grant ultimately found a way to get the job done in other ways, and that led to a 66-61 overtime victory over Vernon Hills in North Suburban Conference Prairie Division action.

"They are playing more patient, more disciplined," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said of his players. "Give (Ryan) Noda credit. Give (Mike) Burns credit. Rayvon (Jones) credit -- the guys who kind of had the ball in their hands the most. They did a nice job of walking the ball up the court when we needed to and making sure we weren't rushing, where one month ago, we probably would have threw that ball in and taken off full speed up ahead and thrown up a shot."

Grant, which has won two straight games after snapping a four-game losing streak, is now 9-7 overall and 3-2 in the Prairie. Vernon Hills drops to 10-5 and 3-3 in the Prairie and has lost its last three games.

"A really bad shooting night," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "The shot selection was not good. Not something we are proud of and Grant took advantage of it.

"We've kind of lived and died by the three this year. We've had some games where we shot really well from the arc. The last couple games, we haven't."

Vernon Hills missed its first 14 three-pointers, and wound up 4-of-23 from 3-point range on the game.

Reserve Tristan Klintworth came off the bench and finally snapped the streak of misses, connecting on two straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. They were key because they helped Vernon Hills come back from a 7-point deficit. His third 3-pointer was even more important because it tied the game in the final seconds and forced overtime.

"We're going to keep on working on our decision-making. We over-helped a little bit too much sometimes on the gap and gave up some open threes," Bosworth said. "We've got to be able to do a better job of both containing the dribble and be able to recover and contest the threes."

Despite the Cougars' big comeback, Grant stayed poised, and quickly regained control.

Grant ran its half-court offense in overtime, connecting on a jumper and a putback. And Noda, Devan Bald and Jones nailed 6 straight free throws to help pull away.

"We kind of lost what we did well, and we finally are getting it back together," Bald said. "We're playing hard. I feel like we're taking steps in the right direction, finally."

Burns led Grant with 13 points while Noda and Bald added 12 points apiece.

Vernon Hills 3-point specialist Robby Nardini didn't make a 3-pointer, but finished with 18 points. Teammate Matt Weaver also had 18 points while Klintworth added 14 points.

The Cougars were without two starters, Cory Levin and Lem Turner, who are both nursing injuries.

"We're trying to piece it together here. Last couple of games, we hadn't done a good job of that," McCarty said. "Cory might be back late next week. Lem is probably a good three weeks away. Losing him, he's kind of our difference-maker on the defensive end.

"I thought Tristan Klintworth came in and played probably his best varsity game of his career. So I was really proud of the effort Tristan gave us off the bench."

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