For about the first 21 minutes of Grant's road game at Hoffman Estates, things weren't going well for the visiting Bulldogs.
At that point, however, things changed drastically.
A scoring spark ignited a fire the Hawks couldn't put out as Grant used 13-0 run over the final 3:02 of the third quarter, giving the Bulldogs a lead they protected through the fourth quarter in a 69-58 nonconference win Tuesday night.
"We became super-aggressive on defense," Bulldogs coach Wayne Bosworth said. "We were really stagnant out there early. They were successfully establishing a tempo and we needed our strengths -- our quickness and athleticism -- to be in a place where we could make a comeback."
Grant (10-12) made it despite trailing 21-4 at the end of the first quarter, during which it missed 10 of its first 11 shots in spotting the host team a 13-0 advantage.
Despite an improved 8-for-12 from the field in the second quarter, the Bulldogs still trailed 37-23 at the break and 44-33 with 3:02 left in the third.
It was at that point the game-turning run took place. It started with a 3 from Torren Curry (13 points) at the 2:18 mark.
Next, Bulldogs guard Mike Huff took the reins as the 6-foot senior connected on 8 of his game-high 25 points during the remaining 1:50 of the period. His spurt included his third and fourth 3s on the evening, plus a halfcourt pass to Matt McGraw for 2 of his 10 points to put Grant up for good at 46-44 entering the fourth.
In those final eight minutes, the visitors turned on the afterburners in forcing Hoffman Estates (11-12) into a 2-for-16 shooting performance from the field and nary a field goal over the game's final 3:27.
As a result of 6 straight free throws, Hoffman Estates stayed within 4 (at 60-56) with 1:33 remaining before a 9-2 Bulldog spurt highlighted by a Huff dunk settled things.
"Our defense was not there in the first half," said Huff, who added 4 boards and a pair of steals. "Coach (Bosworth) lit a fire under us at halftime and we responded."
Junior guard Henry Kusiak added 14 along with a game-high 9 rebounds for Grant.
Marquez Woodard had a team-high 12 points for Hoffman Estates.
Hoffman Estates shot 14-for-32 in the first half -- yet just 3-for-24 in the second half.
"I like to believe that sometimes we can be mercurial shooting the basketball, like we were on Friday (9 of 16 from 3-point range against Barrington)," Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule said. "I felt there were times that we second-guessed our own shot selection on offense, and that we failed to pay proper attention on details defensively in terms of guys who were in places they weren't supposed be. That gave them an opportunity for some fastbreak baskets, which you can't do against a team like Grant."
Both teams return to league play with home games on Friday, as Grant hosts Wauconda in Northern Lake County Conference action while the Hawks host crosstown rival Conant, who remain mathematically alive for a share of the MSL West Division title.
"I like to think that we've started to turn the corner," Bosworth said. "I'm super proud of our guys for making the comeback the way they did it.
"We get an opportunity to see how we bounce back from this against a team that's playing for a share of the division title."