A spirited fourth-quarter effort was just what Grant's girls basketball team needed in pursuit of a victory in the opening game of the season.
Ally Mahinay (10 points) and Kennedy Kiesgen (5 points) combined for 9 key points in the final four minutes and Mallory Harrity led the Bulldogs with a double-double, finishing with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
All of which helped Grant achieve its goal with a 38-28 victory over Grayslake North 38-28 in Mundelein's Thanksgiving tournament on Monday night.
"The first one is always going to be ugly, no matter what happens," Grant coach Kevin Geist said. "I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week."
The Bulldogs did display some moments of beauty in executing their defensive game plan. They'll be be spending more time polishing up the offensive side.
"Our defense was there, holding them to 28 points," Geist said. "Our goal is to keep teams under 30 points, then you can win most of your games.
"We played really good defense, and our help-side was there. Offensively, they passed, shared and moved the ball. I can't ask for much more, and eventually those shots will fall. Overall, our energy was good, our team chemistry was coming together and we'll need to iron out some execution things. We just need to finish off plays."
Finishing the game, however, wasn't a problem.
The Bulldogs were clinging to a 25-24 lead with 4:36 remaining,
Mahinay started off a 7-0 run with a layup. Then Kiesgen, on two successive trips down the court, scored all 5 of her points. First she had a rebound putback, during which she was fouled -- she completed the 3-point play with the free throw. Then she followed up by scoring on a layup that put Grant up 32-24 with 3:35 left.
"We just tried to be strong, because we really wanted to win," Kiesgen said. "We were sloppy (early in the game). We needed to come together and we picked things up. We just showed who we actually are. We just got on a run and were making our shots. Some of played together last year, so it kind of helps."
The Bulldogs were able to hold on to the lead the rest of the way and eventually extended it to double digits.
Savannah Guenther led the Knights with a double-double of her own -- 10 points, 16 rebounds, along with 5 blocked shots. But Grayslake North was in foul trouble through most of the game and was outrebounded 46-36.
"That was the big difference, in the rebounding," Grayslake North coach Rob Nicoletti said. "It was foul trouble and our inability to rebound as a unit. All five girls on the floor have to do a better job of rebounding. We knew that with Grant coming in, and they're a familiar opponent. We knew that we were going to have our hands full down low."
The Knights trailed 21-18 entering the final quarter.
"We did cut it down to 1, and whenever we tried to get over that hump, it was an offensive rebound that they had for 2 points the other way," Nicoletti said. "We just couldn't get the control of the game. Everytime we had a breakdown on defense, and that was it."
Grant returns to tournament play against Highland Park at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Grayslake North will face Glenbrook South at 7:30 p.m.