Grayslake Central downs short-handed Palatine
Grayslake Central girls basketball coach Steve Ikenn had two reasons to yawn on Saturday:
He had to get up earlier than usual to travel with his Rams to Palatine for a 10:30 a.m. game.
And then, in the first minute of the second quarter, Ikenn looked up at the scoreboard, which reported his team had taken a 23-3 lead.
A yawning gap, indeed.
But Ikenn wasn't bored in the least, not against a Mark Johnson-coached Pirates squad.
"Mark's teams," Ikenn said, "are always well-prepared teams, teams that play hard for all 32 minutes. I love competing against Palatine."
Ikenn certainly adored the result -- a 55-37 nonconference Rams' victory -- but Johnson had plenty of reasons to relish the effort from his Pirates, who outscored the Rams 19-10 in the second frame and had a chance to narrow Grayslake Central's advantage to 39-35 a couple of minutes after the start of the final quarter.
"Nice second quarter," said Johnson, who had to battle without three starters. "I liked the way we continued to attack and look for open shooters."
But Grayslake Central (9-1) ultimately won, for the most part, because it received another fine performance from a three-sport junior who's adept at stopping shooters ... in soccer. A goalkeeper in the spring, 5-foot-11 forward Piper Gallaher (also a volleyball player) netted a game-high 22 points to go with her 13 rebounds and 3 deflections. Deflections in hoops are second cousins of saves in soccer.
"It's easy to see the goalkeeper in Piper when she plays basketball," Ikenn said. "She plays with such tenacity. Those deflections give everybody around her a lift."
Rams senior sharpshooter MK Drevline lofted -- and made -- a trio of 3-pointers en route to her 14-point morning. Two of them bookended Grayslake Central's 10-0 run in the final 2:38 of the first quarter. Bound for Denison, where her sister Rosie is a sophomore guard, Drevline authored a steal-and-bucket sequence that halted Palatine's 10-0 stretch midway through the second quarter.
"I love how hard we play for each other," said Drevline, a vital member of Grayslake Central's Class 3A sectional title team last winter. "We're always looking for teammates on fast breaks, and we're always picking each other up."
Junior forward Olivia Riley paced Palatine (7-6) with 16 points and 14 rebounds, not too long after finishing with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 6 steals in a 52-38 defeat of Hoffman Estates on Friday night. The 5-10 Pirate poured in all 8 of her team's points in the third quarter.
Palatine sophomore Payton Westphal (6 points) hit a pair of freebies at the start of the fourth quarter. Thirty-eight seconds later, a free throw from senior teammate Lauren Seeberger (6 points) pared the Rams' lead to 39-33.
But Ikenn's crew answered emphatically from there, outscoring the hosts 16-4. Junior Mia Lennartz contributed 9 points for the victors, and classmate Monica Schleg finished with 6 points and 5 boards.