Grayslake Central's offense comes alive in win over rival
Earlier this season, Grayslake Central scored just 37 points in a 1-point victory over Grayslake North.
In the rematch Tuesday night, on its home court, the Rams exceeded that point total with just over a minute gone in the third quarter.
Five-foot-7 Grayslake Central guard Kai Taylor, a senior, keyed a 16-0 Rams run in the third quarter with his work on the boards to help his team open a 17-point lead.
Taylor had 5 of his team-high 8 rebounds in the third stanza, and classmate Jacob Gibson scored 22 points from the low post as Grayslake Central won 71-53 in a Northern Lake County Conference boys basketball matchup.
"I'm one of the littlest dudes out here," said Taylor of his prowess on the glass against the Knights, "so I've got to hustle. I've got a lot of heart and I'm going to go for every rebound I can get.
"We played together as one tonight, and I think found our rhythm both offensively and defensively."
Grayslake North trailed just 38-37 a minute after halftime, but wound up scoring only 5 points in the third as the game got out of reach.
"I thought we came out with good energy (after intermission)," said Knights coach Josh Feinzimer. "We had a quick steal and a basket, but they (GC) kind of lifted off after that."
"I give them a lot of credit," added the coach. "They (the Rams) hit some open shots. They knocked them down and we didn't make them feel uncomfortable. And we had no answer for Gibson down low. He had a heck of a game and he's a great player."
Gibson started the second half surge for the Rams with a driving layup, then teammates Dennis Esteep and Michael Monahan both nailed 3s.
By the time Taylor hit a bucket near the end of the third stanza, the score stood at 54-37 Rams.
Grayslake Central junior guard Jayden Sandique Hall opened the final period with a pair of free throws to make it 18 straight points for the home team.
The Knights were able to slightly close the gap as Dominic Jankowski scored 5 fourth quarter points, but Gibson's third dunk of the game with 1:07 left gave the Rams a 21-point lead.
The Knights couldn't get any closer than the final score.
"I think we just like playing at home," said Monahan of the 71-point explosion. "The crowd gives us a lot of energy, and I think the guys just wanted it. We haven't had a great last couple of games but we're starting to get hot again."
Estepp scored 17 for Grayslake Central (20-3, 7-1), while Uros Mitrovic led Grayslake North (9-13, 4-4) with 14.
"I think our guys will bounce back," said Feinzimer, "and we'll be better off for it. We're going to go back to work and figure out what we need to do to be successful."