Alex Lennartz was one of several Grayslake Central seniors who didn't want to their seasons come to and end on Friday night.
Lennartz had been through a lot this year, including a broken nose and a concussion.
He showed he could dish out shots, too, leading the Rams with 22 points and 10 rebounds -- but it wasn't enough for the Rams on this evening.
Grayslake Central stayed close to North Chicago for three quarters before the top-seeded Warhawks prevailed over the No. 8 Rams 71-53 in Class 3A regional championship play in Grayslake.
"It was tough out there, and all of the seniors didn't want this to be our last game," said Lennartz, who missed seven games due to injury this season. "We can honestly say that this is a family.
"I just came out to play the best that I could for my team. The other guys stepped up. North Chicago has been downstate two of the last three years, and they're going to play their game. We did a great job for the first three quarters playing our game and slowing it down. When you play a team like them, you take the eyes off the prize for one second, they can turn it around in a heartbeat."
The Rams (16-12) found themselves trailing the Warhawks 39-34 entering the fourth quarter. A lot of the credit for that goes to the Rams' defense delivering one of its best performances of the season. The Rams disrupted what North Chicago (25-5) was trying to run offensively, and foul trouble became an issue for the NSC Prairie champs.
"Our kids came out and battled," Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe said. "That's what you want.
"We did everything we wanted to do until the fourth quarter. We turned the ball over a few times too much. We kind of got away from what we did for the first three quarters. We went with seven or eight guys instead of 10 guys like we did all year. Maybe we got a little tired and turned the ball over too much at the end. You can't turn the ball over against North Chicago."
The Warhawks found their transition game and shooting touch with 6 straight points, capped by a layup from Arnold Shead (10 points) for a 45-34 lead with 6:50 left.
North Chicago kept its fast pace going the rest of the way and outscored Grayslake Central 32-19 in the final quarter.
"Grayslake Central played a heck of a game," North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman said. "Coach (Brian Moe) does a great job to motivate those kids and they played hard against us.
"At this point of the game, it's about advancing. This game does help us out. Games are played tighter, and you don't blow teams out. You can throw the 90-point games out the window. It's who can play the smartest and the hardest."
Kurt Hall had a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Warhawks. Jamero Shelton added 14 points, JayQuan McCloud chipped in with 12 and JaVairius Amos-Mays had 11.
Malcolm Reed knocked down 12 points for the Rams.
Grayslake Central led 10-8 after the opening quarter and trailed North Chicago 25-21 at the break.
North Chicago next meets No. 4 seed St. Patrick in the Class 3A Antioch sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.