Graham getting his kicks in basketball now
Unable to secure his 16th rebound before it rolled out of bounds under the Carmel Catholic basket midway through the fourth quarter, Libertyville senior forward Patrick Graham showed off one of his many other athletic skills.
Graham, an all-area soccer player this fall, juggled the basketball 3-4 times with his feet before losing control of it.
His personal-best total of touches juggling a soccer ball?
"Probably 250, 300," Graham said. "I miss that season."
Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski is glad he has Graham for basketball season. Graham's double-double of 11 points and 15 rebounds helped the host Wildcats win their home opener, 59-43 over their Route 176 rival in a nonconference battle Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Graham was one of four players to score in double figures for Libertyville (4-1). Blake Ellingson led the Wildcats with 13 points (two 3-pointers), Jackson Watson added 12 on four 3s, and junior Marc Michelotti had 10.
"All five guys can shoot, and they made some tough shots," Carmel coach Zack Ryan said. "I thought we defended them pretty hard. They're good. I knew going in they were good. But I'm leaving thinking they're even better."
Kimahri Wilson scored a game-high 24 points for Carmel (2-3), which went just 15 of 50 from the floor (30 percent). Wilson, who also had 4 steals, shot 8 of 19 from the floor and 8 of 10 from the stripe.
"We just couldn't make any shots," said Ryan, whose Corsairs didn't make any 3-pointers. "I thought we played hard and didn't give up. It was just every time we needed that one shot to cut it to six or something we couldn't make it."
Libertyville made its shots, shooting 19 of 39 (49 percent). The Wildcats drained eight 3-pointers and also made 13 of 19 free throws.
"This is a full-team effort," Zyrkowski said of his team's play early in the season. "Every possession, you don't know who's going to take that shot for us, and Pat Graham has been the Energizer Bunny. Those extra possessions allow our shooters to get set and shoot. And our guys are unselfish."
Last spring, Graham shined on the volleyball court for the Wildcats, earning all-area recognition for his hitting and blocking.
"That's my main sport," said Graham, who's not sure which sport, if any, he will play in college. He sports a 4.2 GPA (4.0 scale). "Going up, I just find where the ball is. I track it. I feel like I know where it's going to go, and it always ends up in my hands."
Zyrkowski called Graham's rebounding ability "Rodman-esque." It's a skill Graham demonstrated on varsity last season as well.
"He's a unique player," Zyrkowski said. "This is why we talk to our kids about how being a three-sport athlete is an important thing. He's a volleyball player and his jumping ability transfers to basketball. He's a soccer player and brings his quickness, awareness and foot speed to basketball."
A Graham layup in transition helped Libertyville build a 12-4 lead in the opening quarter. Sophomore Chase Bonder buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, extending the Wildcats' lead to 26-17. A pair of Watson 3s and two buckets from Graham helped the Wildcats outscore the Corsairs 16-8 in the third.
Carmel also got 8 points and 9 rebounds from Bryce Moore.
"Some of those Carmel guys can jump out of the gym," Zyrkowski said. "There were a couple of boards where I was like, 'Wow, they got it.' They clawed back. We had to keep our composure, and I thought our guys did."