There was a mob scene Friday night during Grayslake Central's Fox Valley Conference showdown at Johnsburg.
The "bench mob" again came up big for the visiting Rams.
For the second straight game, Grayslake Central's deep and talented bench maintained and even significantly extended leads, and this time it added up to a 61-51 victory over Johnsburg.
All five reserves who entered the game scored for the Rams, and during the turning point in the third quarter, reserves helped turn a tie game into a 12-point lead.
A similar scenario played out on Wednesday in Grayslake Central's win at Woodstock as the reserves were key in stretching a 6-point lead to at least 12 points.
"We call ourselves the 'bench mob,' just a little name we came up with," laughed Grayslake Central reserve guard Michael Benko, who came off the bench to score 11 points against Johnsburg. "When we're about to go in, we're always like, 'Bench Mob time!'
"We get hyped about going in and we play well together. Just like the Woodstock game, we came in tonight and were able to sustain the lead and then build it up. I think it's the chemistry outside of basketball. We just trust each other and that carries onto the court and we're able to make plays."
Senior guard Malcolm Reed, who normally starts but came off the bench in this game, made plenty of plays. He scored 8 points and was a defensive thorn in the side of the Skyhawks. During that pivotal point late in the third quarter when Grayslake Central broke a 31-31 tie by running off a 12-2 run, Reed had 4 points. He converted a turnover into a layup and drained two technical free throws.
The Rams, who improve to 10-7 overall and stay unbeaten in Fox Valley Conference Fox Division play at 6-0, also got 6 points out of senior reserve Matt Loeffl and 2 points apiece out of reserves David Llorens and Jack Beckman.
All five starters scored for the Rams as well, meaning that all 10 players who entered the game scored points. Starter Sam Ruhlmann led Grayslake Central with 13 points.
"We've played nine or 10 guys pretty much every game this year," Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe said. "That's kind of our thing. "(Benko) really listened to what we were trying to do, picked up on it and did a nice job when he got in there."
Grayslake Central busted up Johnsburg's zone defense by attacking the basket. The Rams racked up layup after layup, and multiple putbacks. Meanwhile, they did not make a 3-pointer, and attempted only 8 long-range shots for the game.
Johnsburg (5-15, 2-4 FVC Fox) was on the other end of the spectrum.
The Skyhawks attempted 25 3-pointers. Problem was, they sank only 5 of them. In the first half, Johnsburg was 1-of-14 from 3-point range, and fell behind by 7 points (27-20) at halftime.
"Our team started off slow behind the 3-point line and it was frustrating," said Johnsburg guard Steve Dixon, who scored 12 of his 14 points and knocked down all three of his 3-pointers in the second half. "We still believed and we still worked our butts off. We shot a little bit better in the second half, but we couldn't match their physicality (going to the basket) on the other side of the floor."
Collin Ridout paced Johnsburg with 16 points on two 3-pointers. But he missed the final minutes of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter after being issued a technical foul.
The Skyhawks struggled to generate offense with him on the bench.
"It's not a good thing for our team when he's not on the floor," Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said of Ridout. "But they also just wore us down with their physicality and we couldn't run our offense.
"We weren't hitting tonight. We weren't shooting the ball real well, and that's usually one of our strengths. We usually shoot about 30 percent (from 3-point range). But (Grayslake Central) plays really good defense and that's a credit to them."