2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/9/2017 7:56 PM

Victory eases the pain for Thomas, Grayslake Central

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Chris Thomas Sr. knows his son's stats.

Chris Thomas Jr. is a junior starting guard and varsity rookie for Grayslake Central's basketball team.

"It's been a physical year (for Chris Jr.)," Chris Thomas Sr. said. "He's already had two black eyes. He hyperextended his knee the last game against Round Lake."

Saturday at Antioch, while fighting for a rebound for during the fourth quarter of Grayslake Central's 62-46 win in a Northern Lake County Conference matinee, Chris Thomas Jr. caught an inadvertent elbow in the face.

That's 1 broken nose, Chris Thomas Sr. confirmed.

"I can feel it," said Chris Thomas Jr., whose nose was visibly puffy and bent. "It was a real physical game."

"Welcome to varsity, right?" Chris Thomas Sr. joked.

Victory helped ease the pain for Chris Thomas Jr., who had 9 points, including a 3-pointer. Alec Novak scored a season- and game-high 18 points, as Grayslake Central (4-3, 3-0) pulled away in the second half en route to its third win in a row.

Antioch fell to 4-2 and 1-2 in the NLCC.

"They're a physical team," Grayslake Central coach Kosta Kougias said of the Sequoits. "It's one of those things where we know coming into it that it's going to be physical and we got to match the physicality. I thought our kids did. I'm so proud of them."

Novak did more than score. He helped hold Sequoits leading scorer Dan Filippone to just 3 field goals and a season-low 12 points. A three-year varsity player and team captain this season, Novak has become the Rams' defensive stopper.

"I've been playing against (Filippone) for years now, and it's just picking up on little things," Novak said. "He's really elevated his game over the years. He can shoot it. But I feel, at the time, that I've elevated my defensive game."

Grayslake Central, which led by as many as 12 points in the first half, saw Antioch pull within 38-35 on a pair of free throws by Filippone with 5:48 left in the third. But the Rams answered with an 8-0 run, as Novak and Jack Spalding hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Tony Crews finished a layup off a Novak pass.

"We know we got scorers all over the floor," Kougias said. "I thought we became a little bit more patient on offense once (Antioch) cut it to a couple-of-possession game."

Antioch didn't hit a field goal in the third quarter, although the Sequoits did get to the foul line 12 times. They hit enough (9) to trail just 48-39 entering the fourth. But the visitors took control again, as Novak's 3 started a 10-0 run to start the final quarter. Thomas capped the flurry with a drive.

Antioch made only 1 basket from the floor in the second half, and that was Branden Gallimore's scoop shot with 1:24 left in the game. Antioch made 14 of 22 free throws after halftime.

"When we needed those 'and ones,' we were just a little short," Antioch coach Jim White said. "And (Grayslake Central) made some big ones when it mattered. Those are just daggers. It felt like every time down we were clawing just for anything, and then when they came down and knocked down a shot, it was like a double shot."

Besides Filippone, Andrew Hare (10 points) also scored in double figures for Antioch.

Novak led Grayslake Central's balanced attack, which also included 12 points from Crews (6 of 8 free throws) and 11 from Spalding. Jack Fortmann's 9 matched Thomas' point total.

The Rams didn't mind the physicality of the game.

"That's just how everybody plays -- all out," Novak said after shooting 5 of 8 from the floor (two 3-pointers) and 6 of 9 from the line. "Everybody's going hard the whole game."

His teammate, Thomas, left Antioch with proof of that.

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