Boys Basketball Trudging Through the NLCC

Justin Parmer, Sports Editor

Rams struggling against 4A competition

The season hasn’t gone according to plan for the Grayslake Central varsity boys basketball team. Entering the Hardwood Classic over the holiday break, the Rams boasted a 6-4 record and were on a 3 game win streak. However, following the holiday break, the Rams struggle to find momentum, losing eight out of their last eleven games, dropping to 9-12 overall and 4-4 in conference play as of February 7th. 

“We’re not anywhere near where we want to be when the season comes to an end.” said varsity head coach, Kosta Kougias. “But we’re definitely moving towards playing our best basketball.”

What makes the losing streak all the more frustrating is that the Rams aren’t losing in a blowout. Six out of the eleven losses for Grayslake Central came in games decided by less than 6 points. The only games that weren’t decided by two possessions came at the hands of teams in the 4A classification with an average win percentage of .628%, which includes #16, Waukegan. 

The Rams schedule is a factor this season as the team played against 17 different teams in the 4A classification in 22 of their 24 matches thus far. The Rams split their first two 3A matchups against North Chicago and Wauconda.  

“I think takeaway a major one is that we can compete at a high level if we’re playing that at our highest.” said junior center Grant Hardy when asked about the teams performance in the Hardwood classic.

Part of the problem comes on the offensive side of the ball. Before the holiday break, the Rams averaged 56.6 points a game. In their recent 8 games, the Rams only managed to put up 46.75 points per game. The conference is a little easier to score in as the Rams are only scoring 57.25  points per conference game, which ranks the Rams 7th in the NLCC. The rest of the conference currently averages 59.7 points a game. The offense is something the Rams are looking to address in the remaining portion of conference play according to varsity forward Ethan Bolens. 

“We have a ton of talent this year.” Said varsity junior Ethan Bolens, “We just need to know when to pass up a good shot for a great shot. Learning to play with each other is a big part of it.” 

But what the Rams lacked in offense, they make up for on the defense. The Rams boast the best defense in the NLCC letting up only 52 points per game. The Rams only allowed conference opponent, Grayslake North, to reach the 70 point marker this season.

The Rams will need that defense in the IHSA tournament in February. Who and where is yet to be determined, but as the number of games remaining dwindles down, the Rams will be looking to secure a first-round bye in their return to 3A basketball.