2016-'17 Season Coverage
updated: 2/18/2017 10:52 PM

Connolly connects as Grayslake North rolls

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Who knows how much longer Ryan Connolly's reputation as a 3-point shooter is going to last.

Maybe he'll be known as a dunker soon.

The possibilities are endless for Grayslake North's fabulous freshman, who seems to one-up himself each and every game.

Connolly poured in 29 points on Saturday night to lead Grayslake North to a 76-50 nonconference victory over visiting Schaumburg.

Grayslake North improves to 17-7 on the season.

The third quarter belonged to Connolly, who broke open a 27-27 halftime tie by scoring 17 of Grayslake North's 20 points. He began the period by settling in to his comfort zone: behind the 3-point arc. He hit three straight 3-pointers.

But in the fourth, he added the mother of all icings to the cake by throwing down the first dunk of his varsity career.

"I wouldn't mind being known as either one," Ryan Connolly said of his preference to being labeled as a 3-point shooter or a dunker. "It did feel great to get that dunk. I've always wanted to do that in a varsity game.

"Right now, I'm known for (three-point shooting). That just comes from going out with my brother and doing a lot of shooting outside every day in the summer and putting shots up for hours."

Connolly is getting the opportunity to play with his older brother, junior forward James Connolly, who also had a big game against Schaumburg.

The elder Connolly, part of Grayslake North's "Big 3," finished with 19 points. Senior point guard Jamal Thomas, the third piece of the "Big 3," had 20 points.

"We rely on those three a lot," Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said of the Connolly brothers and Thomas. "It's nice knowing we can get three guys to score. But we get a lot from our other kids, too … charges, good defense, rebounds. We've got a lot of kids on this team who all buy into what they're doing and what we're doing."

Schaumburg was led by its own talented young guy: Michael Hodges. He finished with a team-high 18 points. Kameron Powell added 14 points for the Saxons, who fall to 9-15 on the season.

"We didn't come out like we wanted to (in the third quarter when Grayslake North broke the game open). Nobody was talking on defense, we didn't have that communication," Hodges said. "I have respect for (Ryan Connolly). He got a lot (of points) in transition and we didn't do a good job of getting back."

Thanks to Ryan Connolly's third-quarter outburst, Grayslake North took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Knights further broke open the game by opening the fourth quarter with a 14-6 run.

"We were extremely flat in the second half and they weren't," Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler said of Grayslake North. "We needed to attack the rim and get back in transition and talk more on the floor. (Talking) was nonexistent. It's hard to have energy when you are silent."

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