As the points and made shots from beyond the arc had piled up for Derek Parola in the New Year, one number hadn't budged for Mundelein's basketball team.
That changed Tuesday night.
Parola kept up his January hot streak by scoring 32 points, including seven 3-pointers, as the Mustangs bumped their win total from 1 to 2 with a 76-61 victory over visiting Grant in a North Suburban Conference crossover.
It was the first win for Mundelein (2-18) since Nov. 26 against Lakes, snapping a 17-game losing streak.
"It's definitely a good feeling," a smiling and relieved Parola said. "The team's been working hard. We never really had that time when we were like, 'Let's give up on the season.' We kept working hard and it finally paid off."
Parola's work has paid dividends too. In Mundelein's seven games in 2014, he's scored 195 points (27.9 ppg) with a staggering 44 3-pointers. He just set Rockton Hononegah's MLK tournament record with 19 3s in four games.
Against Grant (9-8), the senior guard shot 7 of 14 from three-point range and 10 of 21 overall. He also went 5 of 6 from the line.
"I've had a lot of support from my teammates," Parola said. "They keep encouraging me to shoot. They're getting me the ball. They're screening. They're doing everything they can for me to able to shoot as well as I've been shooting lately."
Grant missed too many layups and never led in seeing a two-game winning streak snapped. With his team trailing 23-11 late in the opening quarter, Bulldogs coach Wayne Bosworth called timeout with 1:42 left and got in his players' ears.
"We've had the same problems all year," Bosworth said after his team committed 22 turnovers. "We have no composure. We don't cherish possessions. We give them away. The most frustrating part is, the talent is sitting in (the locker room)."
Grant closed the first quarter with a 6-0 run but fell behind by as many as 12 points in the second and went into halftime trailing 40-30. Parola had 16 points, including a trio of 3s, in the opening half. He also got fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all 3 free throws.
"We came out really hot," said Mundelein forward J.T. Michalski, who scored 8 of his 12 points in the first quarter, grabbed 7 rebounds and took 2 more charges to hike his school-record total to an amazing 50 for the season. "Coach has been pushing us because at the beginning of games we've been coming out not as fast as we do later on in games. The pep and fire we've had at the beginning of games (recently) has transitioned over into the second half, which is better for us in the long run."
Parola drained another 3-pointer in the third quarter and three more in the fourth. When a drive by Ryan Noda (team-high 19 points) got Grant within 44-40 midway through the third, Parola answered with a 3. Steve Dunning (14 points) scored in the lane for the Bulldogs, but Parola deflated the visitors again by sinking an 18-footer.
"We gave Parola open shot after open shot," Bosworth said. "He hit a couple of tough ones in our face, but I thought he was pretty open all night. I thought we did a bad job of guarding him. Give their guys credit because they set good screens to get him open, but we were trailing on screens. We don't do that.
"We went to double off him a couple of times," Bosworth added. "We're going to double off one of the best shooters in Lake County? Are you kidding me? Our whole game plan was to have someone chest to chest on him, don't help and chase him all over the court."
Sam Nelson added 13 points and 7 rebounds for Mundelein, while Nick Brune chipped in 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Parola also had 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
"He's been shooting the ball well and he's been handling it, too," Mundelein coach Corey Knigge said. "I don't know if he's ever handled the ball this much in his life."