Palatine's bigs too much for Grayslake North
The scouting report was met with disbelief.
"We were watching film on Palatine and their two big guys came up, and I said to our guys, 'Just so you know, one of those guys is 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, and the other one is 6-foot-4, 315 pounds,'" Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said.
"Our guys were like, 'No way, Coach. That's not possible.' "
Oh but it is, and the Grayslake North boys basketball team got an up close and personal eyeful of Palatine bigs Julian Campbell (6-foot-6) and David Balanganayi (6-foot-4).
The two teamed up to pound on Grayslake North for a combined 27 points in leading visiting Palatine to a 62-50 victory in the opening round of Lake Zurich's MLK Tournament.
The Pirates improve to 8-9 on the season with the win and will play the winner of Wednesday's night's Carmel-Mundelein game in Saturday's semifinals. Grayslake North, which plays the Carmel-Mundelein loser on Saturday, dropped to 8-8 despite a game-high 27 points from Ryan Connolly (two 3-pointers).
"They are a ton to guard," Grunloh said of Campbell and Balanganayi. "I've been doing this a long time and I've never seen two (high school) kids that big in my life on the basketball court and the fact that they're both on the same team and in the same starting five is amazing."
Campbell, who scored 17 points, and Balanganayi, who scored 10 points, have been turning heads together since middle school.
"We've been playing basketball together since we were little kids at the rec center and we just got better and better playing together each summer and sharing the ball with each other," Balanganayi said. "We work together well, we don't care who scores the most. That's what we do."
Another thing Campbell and Balanganayi do is intimidate with their size. They are a sight standing side-by-side, owning the lane.
"Teams just don't know what to do when they see us," Campbell said. "Basically when we step on the court, it's different. Most teams don't have people like us. They don't see guys like us."
Balanganayi, a senior, is also a standout on the Palatine football team, a right guard. He's got scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Bowling Green and will be deciding next month where he'll continue his career.
Campbell, who showed versatility by also stepping out and draining three 3-pointers, is a basketball guy and is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. He is just a sophomore and already has serious interest from Northwestern and UIC.
"It's a unique thing having kids that size play at the same time," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "When they play well together, it gives teams something to prepare for."
Grayslake North also had issues with Palatine's zone in the fourth quarter.
The Pirates were able to open up a close game by turning up the intensity of their defense to create frustration and confusion for Grayslake North.
Palatine opened the fourth quarter with a 46-42 lead but ran that up to a 52-42 lead before Grayslake North scored its first point with 2:30 left in the game. That came on free throws by Connolly.
The Knights didn't even score their first field goal of the quarter until there was 1:05 remaining, and that was on a putback by Connolly, who scored all 8 of Grayslake North's fourth-quarter points.
"I just don't think we were running our offense the right way in the fourth quarter," said Connolly, who recently scored his 1,000th career point and was given a plaque for it after the game. "We couldn't get open looks, we didn't go to the right spots on the court. And their defensive intensity picked up too and that really hurt us. It was very frustrating. To not score for like 10 minutes is not something we usually do."
Two other players reached double-figures in the game. For Palatine, Ben Storm added 10 points on two 3-pointers and Tony Hines had 12 points for Grayslake North.