Wauconda clinches NLCC title outright
Wauconda's boys basketball team accomplished more than just a victory in winning the Northern Lake County Conference championship for the second time in three years with a 59-51 win over host Grayslake Central 59-51 on Friday night.
"It's (been) a very long time to win a conference title outright," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "It does feel good, and the kids played very well. We played well in this gym, and we had a really good week of practice. The kids were locked in and focused. Basketball is a game of runs and you've got to play through things. This is a good test before the playoffs start."
The Bulldogs' Nick Brinias was scoreless until the fourth quarter and hit a couple of clutch 3-pointers that created a 10-point advantage at 50-40 with 5:55 remaining.
"I was a little off in the first half, but the coach kept me positive, and he mentioned to let the game come to you," Brinias said. "I got a couple of good looks, and I was able to knock them down. I was just happy to get one to fall, and then thought I might get a couple more."
Brinias also was wearing a face shield mask because he broke his nose in a game against Johnsburg and had to have surgery on it about a month ago.
"It was annoying to wear it at first," Brinias said. "You do get used to it. Once you're in the game, you just forget about it."
Grayslake Central (18-11, 9-4) tried to chip away in the final minutes, but the Rams made a few mistakes and couldn't hit the shots they needed to the last couple of minutes.
Griffin Daun led Wauconda (21-3, 12-1) with a game-high 17 points, Justin Drobnik added 14, and Braedon Carlsen and Garrison Carter each contributed with 10.
Grayslake Central's Dennis Estepp led the way with a team-high 13 points, all in the first half. Brendan Whalen chipped in with 12 and Jake Gibson added 10.
"We just couldn't come up with that rebound, we just couldn't come up with that loose ball," Grayslake Central coach Brian Centella said. "We just didn't come up with that final stop to put us over the hump. (Wauconda) was a really good team. Every guy out there can shoot it, pass it, and attack the basket. So, you've got to be dialed in defensively from the start to the finish to even have a chance against those guys."