High school boys basketball: Grayslake North cruises past Prairie Ridge

GRAYSLAKE — One month since he and his Grayslake North basketball teammates last won a game and 18 days since they last played, Tony Hines finally got to show off his athleticism.

The junior guard did play games over break, mind you.

"“I played a lot of 2K and Madden (video games),”" said Hines, smiling. “"I got in the gym a couple of times.”"

Hines showed in Grayslake North'’s 67-39 win over nonconference-visitor Prairie Ridge on Saturday that his basketball skills are still sharp. He came off the bench to post game bests of 16 points and 10 rebounds, as the Knights (4-6) snapped a four-game losing streak.

"“We actually had a string of really good practices (over break),”" said Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh, whose team hasn’'t participated in a holiday tournament over break since 2012. “"And then Thursday and Friday happens. It was, '‘Whoo.'’"

Whatever problems the Knights had in practice the last couple of the days, they seemingly resolved them against Prairie Ridge (2-13). They grabbed the lead for good midway through the opening quarter on a layup by Ja Koby Blissitt and extended their advantage to as many as 20 points late in the first half.

Prairie Ridge had won its last two games in Jacobs'’ Hinkle Holiday Classic.

"“Our confidence was high,"” said sophomore guard Mason Loucks, who has been starting since joining the Wolves following the football team’'s march to the Class 6A state championship game. “"We’'ve had only one practice before this (since the Jacobs tourney), so I think we need to fine-tune some more stuff.”"

Prairie Ridge'’s leading scorer, Ryan Hansen (nine points, including a 3, on 4-of-5 shooting), also came off the bench. Loucks knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points.

"“We'’re improving,"” Wolves coach Ryan Smith said. “"We knew today was going to be tough. (Grayslake North) does a good job of getting into the passing lanes and pressuring ballhandlers, and they can shoot it a little bit. For us, today was more of a game to see a team with a little different style than what we always see in our conference (Fox Valley). We play Jacobs on Wednesday and they get out and pressure you like Grayslake North does.”"

Hines, a second-year starter, didn'’t start after being late for a practice over break but provided a spark as soon as he came into the game in the first quarter. He nearly had a double-double (nine points, nine rebounds) in the first half and had the Knights up 35-18 at the break after finishing Jamon Thomas’' inbounds pass under the basket to beat the buzzer.

"“He played a great game,”" Grunloh said of Hines. "“He rebounded extremely well, played great defense, fought through a lot of contact around the basket sometimes and didn'’t complain.”"

Jason Donohue scored 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter for Grayslake North. Freshman guard Dominic Jankowski (12 points) and point guard Thomas (10) also scored in double figures. With the Knights up 59-32 after three, Hines sat out the fourth.

"“I felt like I had to have a positive mind set still, even though I wasn'’t starting,”" Hines said after shooting 7 of 11 from the floor with a 3-pointer. "“I had to keep myself locked in and watch every play from the bench. Then when I get in the game, I’'m up to speed on everything and I’'m ready to go.”"

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