CARY – On Monday, Jason Gregoire turned in his Cary-Grove football uniform and laced up his basketball shoes for his first hoops practice this season.
His performance Thursday night against Grayslake North gave no indication the sophomore guard still is getting acclimated to basketball. Gregoire, who was a member of the Trojans’ football team that finished as runner-up in Class 6A last weekend, came off the bench early in the first quarter and changed the tenor of the game instantly.
His two offensive boards keyed a Trojans run, and he went 8 for 8 from the free throw line in the fourth to help C-G seal a 53-37 win against the Knights in a Fox Valley Conference crossover at Elroy Fitzgerald gymnasium.
“I’m still learning the offense and all of the plays, so once I got in the game I started to warm up and my teammates gave me some confidence,” said Gregoire, who led all scorers with 17 points. “They were behind me all the way and I just took it from there.”
With less than 3 minutes left in the first quarter, Gregoire hit a putback off his second offensive board and followed it with a pullup to help C-G lead 10-2 at the end of the first.
He banked in a 3-pointer late in the second to extend C-G’s lead to 10, 22-12, and helped his teammates control Grayslake North senior standout A.J. Fish. The Trojans packed the lane on Fish, taking away his tendency to score in traffic, and held him to nine points.
“One-on-one, he’s unguardable,” C-G coach Ralph Schuetzle said. “We really tried to pack the lane and make him give it up. … Obviously, he had an off night, but I’d like to think our defense had something to say about that too.”
Fish’s steal and layup at the end of the third quarter trimmed the Knight’s deficit to two, 32-30, but C-G senior guard Matt Motzel (nine points) connected for back-to-back 3s to open the fourth and give the Trojans another comfortable cushion, 38-30, with 7:10 left to play. C-G outscored the Knights, 21-7, in the final quarter, to put the game away.
“Threes come in bunches, and I’d missed a couple at the beginning of the game,” Motzel said. “I knew I was due. I had some great screens and great passes from my teammates and I just hit them.”
The Knights (3-2) consistently have put up 60 points this season, so to score only 37 indicated a lack of patience and some mental hiccups, Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said.
“A couple times we’d get right back in it and give up an offensive rebound, or the ball doesn’t go our way and they back in a three,” Grunloh said. “Every time we chipped away it was like we had a mental breakdown. … [The Trojans] are a very good, well-coached team and they’re patient. They were a little more patient than us tonight.”