You might think Steve Dunning's career as a critic might be in danger. After all, you can't give every play a full five stars.
The senior was rating the first-half plays of teammate Ryan Noda after Grant (11-9, 5-3) led from start to finish and beat host Wauconda 59-48 in North Suburban Prairie play Tuesday night.
OK, that first Noda steal and dunk probably was good for four or five stars. Dunning was right on about Noda's outstanding double move spin that gave Grant an 18-10 lead in the second quarter.
"That was just a game moment,'' Noda said of his critical triumph. "I was just dribbling down and had to use a spin."
Another Noda steal, and this time a flip shot into the net, was more of a four-star play.
Noda led Grant's attack with 19 points. Dunning checked in with 14 points.
"We came out ready to play,'' Dunning said.
Noda agreed with that notion.
"We came out strong,'' Noda said. "We were tired of losing. We've had our ups and downs."
Grant never trailed. Matt Malmberg hit the first of his three 3-pointers and Noda's steal and dunk gave Grant a quick 7-0 lead.
The visitors from Fox Lake never trailed but that didn't mean they exactly ran away and hid. Dion Head's 3-pointer closed the first quarter and Wauconda (13-8, 5-3) was down 14-10 after the first quarter.
"It was a tough game,'' Head said. "There was a lot of physical play and a lot of tough defense. We might have played too fast for ourselves."
Head also took time to compliment teammate Ricky Sidlowski. The junior had 4 free throws heading to the second half -- and then he seemingly scored on the same play on five occasions, a a layup from the left side of the basket. Sidlowski finished with 18 points while Head had 15.
"Ricky was just in the right spot,'' Head said. "I didn't think he would be open like that."
On a Kevin Malisheski drive to the bucket, Wauconda was within 5 points late in the first half. Again, Grant answered with another 7-0 run to close the half. Another Malmberg 3-pointer started the Grant rally. A layup from Mikel Graves gave Grant a 32-20 halftime lead.
The second half told a similar tale. On back-to-back Sidlowski layups, the Grant lead was cut to 41-34. The last of the Malmberg 3-pointers and a Noda 3-point play extended the Grant lead to 48-36.
Two Joey Lovelle free throws again cut the Grant margin to 6 points with less than four minutes to play. Grant closed the game well at the free throw line. Noda was 5-for-6 on foul shots.