GRAYSLAKE – Grayslake North knows the key to winning a conference title and a deep postseason run is relying on its depth when opponents take away star Peyton Gerdes.
The Knights showed they can do just that against Woodstock North on Monday, with role players stepping up to help Grayslake North pick up a 49-36 win.
“It’s huge,” Gerdes said. “It’s a known thing: No one person can carry a team. In situations like that where the focus of the defense is on me, I’m glad people are able to step in and score.”
That doesn’t mean Gerdes wasn’t a factor in a game the Knights (13-6) never trailed in. She scored 16 points in the first quarter and led the Knights to a 20-11 lead after the first quarter.
Woodstock North changed things up in the second half, running a box-and-one defense, double-teaming and sometimes triple-teaming Gerdes any time she had the ball. With the constant pressure on Gerdes, other players stepped up, including Makayla Campbell, who scored eight points in the second quarter.
Despite taking away looks from Gerdes, the Knights continued to move the ball and maintained a commanding lead. Grayslake North led 30-15 at the half, and the Thunder never cut the Knights lead to less than 10.
Gerdes finished the night with 33 points and nine rebounds, and Campbell added 10 points and five rebounds. Grayslake North coach Brian Frericks knows his depth will be important to any success and he was happy to see his team overcome a defense it wasn’t familiar with.
“We did a good job of being patient, moving, getting the ball inside to the weakness and going from there,” Frericks said.
Gracie Zankle led Woodstock North (6-9) with 12 points, and Sophia Fabian scored 10 points and had three rebounds. Isabella Borta added nine points and three rebounds.
Thunder coach Jay Justice thought his team did a good job of taking Gerdes out of the game and continued fighting despite the large deficit.
“They’ve got a lot of fight,” Justice said. “They don’t give up, ever. So what you learn from something like this is to keep battling no matter what the situation is.”
The Thunder will get back to Kishwaukee River Conference action Tuesday when they host Harvard, while the Knights return to Northern Lake County Conference basketball against North Chicago on Tuesday.
Gerdes thought Monday’s win was what the Knights needed heading into the second half of conference play. With a 4-2 conference record, she knows Grayslake North will need more performances like Monday to win the title.
“We’re still battling for that conference title. We’re going to see what happens,” Gerdes said. “This was good to boost our confidence and gel as a team more for conference play.”