Boys basketball: McHenry pummels Grayslake North for second blowout win to start year

Hayden Stone scores 15, including a pair of dunks, in the victory

McHenry senior forward Hayden Stone

WOODSTOCK – First-year McHenry coach Corky Card and his players wanted to send an immediate message during Tuesday’s Hoops For Hope Tournament semifinal against Grayslake North.

They accomplished that mission in a huge way.

The Warriors (2-0) opened the game with relentless defensive pressure, which led to 14 steals and a seemingly endless array of transition baskets.

When the dust settled, McHenry ran away from the Knights for a 75-45 romp, just one day after also pummeling Round Lake by 63 points to open the season.

The Warriors will face Kaneland for the tourney title at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Woodstock High School after Kaneland bested Wauconda 53-48 in the other semifinal.

“We’ve still got some work to do,” Card said after his team’s victory. “But we want our defensive effort to be our identity.

“We’ve got size up and down our roster (seven players 6-foot-3 or taller), and it allows us to push guys harder, because we have a lineup that legitimately goes 12 deep. And all those kids are good athletes.”

That creates big matchup problems for their opponents, something the Knights (1-1) found out the hard way Tuesday.

Five McHenry players scored in double figures, led by senior Hayden Stone’s team-high 15 points. That included a two-hand transition slam dunk to open the second quarter.

He also threw down a one-hand tomahawk dunk midway through the fourth quarter after a steal by guard Marko Stojich.

“My first dunk, I simply wanted to make sure it went in,” Stone said. “The second one, I had a little more time to get creative on the way to the rim, because I knew we were up big. It was fun to get our fans and our bench going.”

McHenry, which shot a red-hot 57.4% from the field (31 for 54), also got 13 points each from junior guard Caleb Jett and 6-7 sophomore forward Adam Anwar.

Jett also had six steals, four assists and three rebounds. Senior guard Marko Visnjevac (11 points) sank all three of his 3-point attempts, as the Warriors finished 8 for 13 from beyond the arc, serving notice they’re going to be more than a one-dimensional force in the paint this year.

“Honestly, our practices have been exhausting compared to a year ago,” Visnjevac said. “But we’ve embraced that. We know that every time we step out there, we’re going to be giving it our best effort at all times. That’s the only way we can reach our potential eventually.

Even Knights coach Josh Feinzimer praised McHenry’s effort.

“They’re a real good basketball team,” Feinzimer said. “Honestly, I’m glad our kids got to experience a game like this because it’s going to be a valuable learning tool.

“We battled hard, so I want to give our players credit for that, too. We didn’t give in. But McHenry is just so disruptive with their size and length.”

North got a game-high 20 points from senior guard Jayden Hunt before he left the game midway through the fourth quarter with cramping.

Teammate Uros Mitrovic added 13 points thanks to 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range, with six of his points coming in the fourth.

But the Warriors held the Knights to 19 for 62 from the field (30.6%). McHenry also won the rebounding battle 32-20.

“Tomorrow will be our third game in three nights,” Card said. “So we’re going to need everyone in our lineup to get some rest tonight and contribute Wednesday in the championship game.”