Grayslake Central shuts down Wauconda, Carter
The inevitable could happen as soon as next week. Wauconda's boys basketball program will have a new all-time leading scorer.
Donovan Carter wasn't going to break a 56-year-old school mark on Thursday night, however. Heck, he entered the Bulldogs' Northern Lake County Conference home game against Grayslake Central 60 points shy of the 1,272 points put up by 1964 graduate Mike Freund.
Grayslake Central's Ethan Boelens and Amarion Coleman made sure Carter got nowhere near his needed point total.
And Grayslake Central made sure Wauconda had nothing to celebrate, period.
The suddenly hot Rams got a game-high 18 points from Grant Hardy, dominated the second half and won 53-43, handing the Bulldogs their first loss in NLCC play. With Round Lake losing to Lakes on Thursday, Wauconda (10-5 overall), Grayslake Central (8-8) and Round Lake are all 3-1 in conference and tied for first.
"It was huge," said the 6-foot-7 Hardy, whose 8-of-10 shooting included a trio of two-handed dunks. "We had a rough start to the beginning of the season [0-5 record], and I think we're finally starting to get it rolling."
Grayslake Central has won three in a row and six of its last seven.
"They wanted it more than we did tonight," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said of the Rams. "They played like they wanted to make this game our first loss in conference."
Grayslake Central accomplished that, in large part, by shutting down Carter. The 6-4 senior guard was held to a season-low-tying 8 points, as Boelens and Coleman helped limit him to 2-of-8 shooting (two 3-pointers). Carter came in averaging 21.3 points per game.
Boelens and Coleman took turns defending Wauconda's prolific scorer.
"Just no space on him and making sure he doesn't touch the ball," Coleman, who finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds, said of the key to limiting Carter. "When he does, white on rice. Just don't let him score."
Boelens had 7 points, including a 3, but it was his defense that had the greater impact.
"Ethan Boelens is a great defender," Rams first-year coach Brian Centella said. "It's hard work chasing that kid [Carter] all over the gym. Ethan got in a little foul trouble [in the second half] so we put 'Mari' back on him and 'Mari' did' an outstanding job chasing Donovan."
Carter didn't score until he buried a 3 in transition off a pass from his brother, Garrison, with 1:14 left before halftime. Boelens answered with his 3-pointer to get Grayslake Central within 25-23 at the break.
Carter's only other field goal came in the closing seconds of the third quarter, when he splashed another 3 to cut into a 42-34 lead for the visitors.
Griffin Daun and Nick Bulgarelli led Wauconda with 9 points apiece. Benji Chung also had 8 points for the Bulldogs.
"We're very balanced in what we do," Luetschwager said. "It's not like everything runs through one player. Everything that Donovan is getting, Donovan usually gets within the offense. It's not like we're making a conscious effort to always try to get Donovan open. We don't run the offense through Donovan.
"I'd say this," Luetschwager added, "this is probably the first time this season that we could truly tell that a team was legitimately trying to take Donovan out of the game."
Hardy scored 9 points in the third, as the Rams outscored the Bulldogs 20-12 to take a 43-37 lead into the fourth. When Wauconda got within six early in the quarter, Grayslake Central responded with baskets by Dillan Dumanlang (7 points) and Hardy. Daniel Rogers added 10 points and 5 rebounds for the Rams, who limited the home team to 2-of-11 shooting in the fourth.
"They're a great team," Centella said of the Bulldogs. "Hats off to them and the season that they're putting together. They got some great players over there, and they're well-coached. We always say, 'To be a good team, you got to go figure out ways to get road, conference wins.' Credit to all of our players -- and our captains Grant Hardy and Ethan Boelens for rallying the troops -- for coming out ready to go."