2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/3/2017 10:27 PM

Another top performer for victorious Grayslake North

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By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

No surprise here -- the big three have already been announced. That would be the brothers Connolly (James and Ryan), and the point guard, Jamal Thomas.

That, at least, was the book on Grayslake North.

However, after Friday night in Wauconda, might it be time to add another member to the Knights' top tier?

Undersized (for a center, that is) Jon Smithson, registered a double double. OK, it wasn't a dominant performance as the junior came up with 10 points and 10 rebounds -- but Smithson will take it.

"Smithson crashes the boards,'' said North coach Todd Grunloh. "He's a little undersized for his position but we were glad to see this tonight."

The first time Wauconda and North battled, it went to overtime before the Knights pulled out a win in a tournament -- and this was one close most of the way, too.

Friday's Northern Lake County Conference game was tied at halftime (33-33). It was a 1-point game heading to the final quarter (47-46).

North had big scoring night from James Connolly (four 3s and 26 points) and earned a 66-59 win over the Bulldogs.

The win overshadowed another strong scoring night from Wauconda's Jarod Stonis (24 points, 8 boards).

"He's a legitimate scorer,'' Grunloh noted. "But after a timeout, we tightened up things defensively. And we executed in the half court."

But again no scoring report has any mention of Smithson being a dangerous player inside for the Knights.

"I wanted to come out aggressively,'' Smithson said. "It started today. Wauconda always gives us a good game. We had to go hard to get this win."

Smithson had 7 points and 8 rebounds at halftime. Still, his Knights (15-6, 7-3) were tied with the Bulldogs at the break.

"We always match up well with Grayslake North,'' said Wauconda coach Scott Leutschwager. "They have some nice shooters. But at Wauconda, we never give up. We just keep on going."

North held Stonis just one basket in the third quarter. Yet, the Bulldogs stayed right in the game as Jacob Carlson hit back to back 3-pointers for Wauconda. Of course matching those 3's was James Connolly. The junior also recalled the first time these teams battled in overtime.

"I think we were down 23-4 and Stonis had pretty much all their points,'' Connolly said. "He's really good shooter. We didn't play our best tonight but we got the win."

It was anyone's game heading to the fourth quarter. However, North jumped out to a 7-1 run to open the quarter. The Knights' lead was suddenly double digits at 57-47.

And then it was Stonis time. The senior scored 6 straight points for the Bulldogs and the Knights' lead was down to 59-53.

Thomas ran the floor show for North. He had a steady game with 16 points.

"Jamal gave me all those good passes,'' Connolly said.

Wauconda (8-14, 4-7) had some late 3-point shooting from Matthew O'Brien (8

points). North salted the game away at the free throw line. Connolly also had the last two buckets for his Knights.

Ryan Connolly added 12 points for North.

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