2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/12/2018 10:30 PM

Strong finish lifts Grayslake North past Deerfield

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Grayslake North could feel Deerfield's pain.

In Class 4A regional action on Monday night, the host Knights could relate to a rough quarter or two.

"We've had some quarters this year where we're just on fire," Grayslake North coach Rob Nicoletti said. "And we've had some quarters where we just really struggled."

Deerfield had three of the latter against Grayslake North, including a first quarter that yielded just 4 points and a second quarter that yielded just 3 points.

And that yielded a big halftime deficit, 13 points.

Despite the slow start, Deerfield actually came back to tie the game in the third quarter, as Grayslake North had a rough quarter of its own. But the Knights finished strong in the fourth quarter and wound up getting a 39-32 victory in the first round of state tournament action.

Grayslake North, which improves to 12-16, will take on Lake Forest at 6 p.m. Wednesday. That game is followed by Lake Zurich against Grant at 7:30 p.m.

"In the third quarter, I think we panicked a little bit," Grayslake North junior forward Savannah Guenther said. "But then we started to get some stops on defense. Our defense turns into good plays on offense."

Grayslake North managed just 5 third-quarter points and was up just 1 point heading into the fourth quarter. But the Knights outscored Deerfield 14-8 in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 4-for-4 performance at the free throw line by Guenther and 2 big 3-pointers from junior guard Jordan Gerdes.

"Savannah is obviously our leading scorer but the way she rebounds the basketball is also huge too," Nicoletti said. "She makes big plays on both ends of the floor for us."

Guenther finished with a game-high 17 points, and was 9 for 12 from the free throw line.

"I'm usually pretty consistent with my free throws," Guenther said. "I was just trying to play hard and look for opportunities."

Deerfield (9-22) was certainly opportunistic in the third quarter.

The Warriors forced some Grayslake North mistakes and turnovers and capitalized by scratching back into the game.

Deerfield erased that 13-point halftime deficit by opening the third quarter on a 15-1 run. That gave the Warriors a 22-21 lead with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Senior forward Sophie Fishbein scored 6 of her team-high 15 points during that stretch.

"It took a lot of hustle for us to do that," Fishbein said of Deerfield's big rally. "At halftime, we really just got our stuff together. We really wanted to win this game. We haven't won a playoff game in a really long time.

"We were maybe nervous in the first half. And then stuff didn't go our way and when that happens, we tend to panic."

Panic turned to pride for Deerfield coach Danielle Ripkey as she watched her players claw their way back into the game.

"I am really happy about the way we played (in the second half)," Ripkey said. "At halftime, I challenged them. I said how do you want to come out (in the second half), how do you want to be represented as a Deerfield basketball player? We have all the tools in our tool box and it was a matter of if we were going to rise to the challenge."

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