2016-'17 Season Coverage
updated: 2/23/2017 10:39 PM

Spalding's big bucket lifts Grayslake Central

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Just how pretty and clutch was Jack Spalding's difficult reverse layup off of a post move through heavy traffic?

Even Spalding himself couldn't help but get caught up in the moment.

"It gave me goosebumps," Spalding said of his game-winner for Grayslake Central on Thursday night. "That was pretty crazy."

Spalding's basket with 10.8 seconds remaining broke a tie that ultimately led to a 62-58 Northern Lake County Conference victory for the Rams over visiting Grayslake North.

The win for Grayslake Central (11-15, 7-7 NLCC), which withstood a game-high 33 points from Knights senior guard Jamal Thomas, evens the season series between the crosstown rivals, avenging Central's 1-point loss to Grayslake North earlier in the season.

"This was a great game," Spalding said of a nip-and-tuck affair that included 11 ties. "I think the first game against these guys, we were a little tentative and we weren't attacking and being aggressive and this time we stayed aggressive the whole time."

Spalding, who led Grayslake Central with a team-high 22 points, was determined to keep his own intensity up from start to finish. He was not happy with his performance the first time around against Grayslake North. In that game, he scored just 3 points.

"I didn't play well last time. Our team did, but not me," said the 6-foot-4 Spalding, who also pulled down 8 rebounds. "I wanted to make sure I played well this game. I was just trying to work my post game tonight because last time I didn't do that too much. I wanted to make sure I stepped up."

Grayslake Central took a 46-41 lead into the fourth quarter, but Grayslake North closed that gap and even took a brief lead halfway through, thanks to the fearless play of Thomas, who scored 12 fourth-quarter points.

The score was tied at 58 apiece after 2 Thomas free throws with about 20 seconds left and then Spalding made a strong move in the post and finished with his reverse layup.

Sidney Goodman iced it for the Rams by then hitting 2 free throws.

"Jack is a beast on the basketball court and he works his tail off," Grayslake Central coach Kosta Kougias said. "He plays big and he's got really good footwork in the post and he can finish down there."

Grayslake Central, which went on a six-game losing streak after losing the Grayslake North the first time around, also got 10 points apiece out of Alec Novak and Tony Crews. The Rams have now won five of their last six games.

Grayslake North, which also got double-figures out of Ryan Connolly (13 points), drops to 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the NLCC.

The Knights struggled offensively in the third quarter as Thomas scored all 11 of the team's points.

"I'm amazed on nightly basis by what Jamal can do," Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said. "He is out there doing so much, hitting shots, driving the lane, getting his teammate involved, hitting free throws. I'm not sure what more you can say about him or the season he has had.

"We just need more scoring (from others). But I think we'll be ok. We're not hanging our heads. I think the guys didn't like to lose, but they know that it's time for regionals now and all they can do is stay upbeat and move forward."

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