The run that started with Wauconda continued on Friday night, with another win against Wauconda.
The Grant boys basketball team has been one of the hottest teams in Lake County since mid-January. The Bulldogs got a 20-point win at Wauconda on Jan. 17 and they've been doing almost nothing but winning ever since.
Grant has played 10 games since that win at Wauconda, and there's been only one hiccup along the way, a Jan. 28 nonconference loss at Fremd. The other nine games over that stretch have yielded wins for the Bulldogs, including this latest win over Wauconda, 59-45 in Fox Lake.
Friday's win is part of four straight wins for Grant. That streak includes wins over two of the top teams in the Northern Lake County Conference, North Chicago and Grayslake North.
Grant, which improves to 16-8 overall and 11-1 in the NLCC, is tied with North Chicago for first place in the league standings with two NLCC games left.
"We just feel like nobody can stop us right now," said Grant junior guard Michael Huff, who led the Grant offense against Wauconda with a team-high 19 points, including three 3-pointers. "We just feel like we're on top of the world.
"The North Chicago win (on Feb. 3 in Fox Lake) was a season-changing win for us. We just had so much emotion and energy into it and we know that if we do that in every game, we'll have the same outcome. We've been playing at a pretty high level lately. We have a lot of confidence right now."
Grant broke open its 3-point lead at halftime (23-20) by out-scoring Wauconda 15-2 in the third quarter.
"We had open shots, we had them chasing us, we just couldn't get them to fall (in the third quarter)," said Wauconda forward Jarod Stonis, who poured in a game-high 21 points, including three 3-pointers. "It was frustrating. But there are times when shots are just not going to fall and we've got to (keep working) to get it back.
"That was for sure (a turning point). Because we were close with them the whole first half. We were in it the whole rest of the time. We just couldn't score in that third quarter."
Wauconda put together some stingy defense of its own in the second quarter. Down 14-6 at the end of the first quarter, the visiting Bulldogs tied the game at 14-14 by holding Grant scoreless for the first five minutes of the second quarter.
The score would have been tied 20-20 at halftime, but Grant guard Kyle Dupree nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a slight edge going into the locker room.
The drought that Wauconda (8-16, 4-8 NLCC) experienced in the third quarter, hitting just 1-of-10 shots, is familiar.
"We've had a couple games this season, whether it's a four-minute stretch or an eight-minute stretch, where the ball just doesn't fall in," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "When we played Grayslake North, it felt like the whole game actually where the ball just didn't fall in. We just keep telling the kids to fight through it and get to the rim and try to get yourself to the foul line and give yourself a shot that you're accustomed to shooting. Keep your head up and have confidence you'll get the next one."
Besides Stonis, forward Kyle Drobnik also scored in double-figures for Wauconda with 11 points, all of which came in the second half. He scored the Bulldogs' only field goal in that quiet third quarter.
For Grant, center John Kerr was the only other double-figure scorer besides Huff. Kerr finished with 12 points.
"We've gotten a little bit better at everything (during the run of 9 wins in the last 10 games)," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. "Defense has gotten better. We've become more patient and disciplined getting teammates good shots.
"I've been proud of our guys getting better at some important areas. And they've always believed that they can win. Getting some wins against some really good teams has helped even more with that."