Grant knocks it out of the park vs. Wauconda
Melissa Ketter's baseball toss came in handy Saturday afternoon -- on a basketball court.
The Grant senior guard turned into a makeshift outfielder after collecting a defensive rebound, whipping a lengthy, right-handed pass that resembled a relay throw from a warning track in the fourth quarter of a Northern Lake County Conference girls basketball game against visiting Wauconda.
The basketball landed cleanly in the mitt-less hands of sophomore MK McNeal, who then turned and made at least three nifty, slithering moves before netting a layup to up her squad's lead to 37-29.
"I don't play baseball," a grinning Ketter said afterward.
The Ketter-McNeal connection -- with 3:42 left -- essentially qualified as the game-winning "home run" and drew the matinee's loudest ovation in Grant's 41-29 victory in Fox Lake. Wauconda (10-12, 5-6 in the NLCC) had pared Grant's 27-15 seemingly comfy lead to an uh-oh-ish 32-27 gap after three quarters.
But Grant (13-13, 7-4) limited the visitors to a scant 2 fourth-quarter points and tallied the game's final 6 points to avenge a loss in the teams' first meeting this winter.
"We're a fast-paced team that likes to push, push, push," said first-year Grant coach Andrea Weaver, a 2015 Grant graduate who battled as a power forward for the Bulldogs. "But we had to slow things down in the second half, play some keep-away, make good choices.
"My message to my players was, 'Trust your gut, trust your strengths.' "
Five Grant Bulldogs scored at least 5 points. Sophomore point guard Lily Capulong -- blessed with poise and magnificent handles -- paced the hosts with 11 points, including a trio of treys in the first half. Ketter finished with 10, followed by McNeal's 9, junior forward Nevada Holm's 6 and sophomore guard Madelyn Dunskis' 5.
"Team ball helped us win today," said McNeal, who also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Ketter and Holm each snared 9 boards.
Injury-plagued Grant dressed only eight players.
"Our players," Weaver said, "are well-conditioned."
Wauconda junior post player Helen Macey suited up for only the second time since suffering a dislocated kneecap in December, when she was averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds at the time of the setback.
Macey scored 6 points and grabbed a team-high 7 boards Saturday.
Six of Wauconda sophomore Grace Parker's team-best 8 points came from the 3-point zip code in the first frame. Freshman guard Alexia Manalo struck for all 7 of her points -- all 7 of Wauconda's points, too -- from the 4:32 mark of the second quarter to 7:43 of the third stanza.
Wauconda senior guard Kaylan McCarthy had 6 rebounds, 1 more than Parker's total.
"We're still in a huge shooting slump," admitted Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis, who started a freshman and a pair of sophomores in a contest featuring nothing but Bulldogs. "And we're not crashing the boards. We had only 7 offensive rebounds today; you need to get more than that when you're shooting like we are. But I've been pleased with how hard we're playing.
"Grant's players," she added, "are fast and scrappy -- they always are."
Grant's victory capped a busy week, during which it went 3-1. And Weaver's crew has to play again Monday, vs. Highland Park.