Grant overcomes adversity to start 8-2

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Grant overcomes adversity to start 8-2

If Grant didn't have bad luck, it wouldn't have any luck at all. The Fox Lake school is 8-2 going into Friday night's game at Crystal Lake Central in the second round of the Class 6A playoff despite a laundry list of injuries and setbacks that had coach Kurt Rous shaking his head in disbelief.

On the Thursday before the season opener, senior wide receiverdefensive back Keion Miller had the entire team at his house for a spaghetti dinner. The deck on the patio collapsed. Eleven players were standing on it at the time. Fortunately, no one was injured. But it was an omen of things to come.

"Later, people joked that if a fallen patio can't stop us, who can? We went through a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries, and we're still having one of the best seasons in school history," Miller said.

Two players who rushed for over 1,000 yards a year ago have been sidelined with injuries for the last four weeks. And two defensive backs are recovering from injuries.

Last Friday, in a 59-0 rout of Lake View, Rous started 5-foot-5, 140-pound junior Jason Bach at quarterback, a fourth-stringer who never had started a game at any level and certainly wasn't expected to start a playoff game.

Rous said his team is winning--the Bulldogs have lost only to highly rated Lakes and Stevenson--because he is using a committee of running backs (sophomore Jeremy Bredwood came up to the varsity last Friday and rushed for four touchdowns) and smoking mirrors.

The mainstays are Miller, 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior tackle Dan Haeffele, 6-foot, 250-pound senior guard Luis Echeverria, 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior center Jared Lalanda, 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior tackle Tyler Reynolds, 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior linebacker Dan King and 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior defensive tackle Francisco Uribe.

"Our offensive line has picked us up. We rushed for over 400 yards last Friday," Rous said. "And our very young defense is playing well, too. If we can control the ball, keep our offense on the field and the opponent's offense on the sideline, fly around on defense and rally around the ball and eliminate big plays, we can be successful."

That's a lot to ask of any team, of course, but Miller, who caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Bach on Grant's only pass of the game to set the tone in last Friday's game, isn't awestruck by the challenge.

"The kids stepped up and filled the void," said Miller, a three-year starter who has experienced more than a few ups and downs. "This is the best of the three teams I've played on. It's all about the way we work together.

"Do your 1-11, the coaches say. If everybody does his own job, we can get the job done. I like how close we all are. We all pick up each other. Everybody works hard in practice every day. We hope accomplish some things that no other team at our school has ever done."

Miller has high expectations for himself. He wants to be a doctor. He ranks No. 65 in a class of 465 and plans to study radiology or anesthesiology at a school in Florida. He has applied to Florida, Central Florida, Miami and Florida State. He also plans to walk on and try to earn a spot on the football team.

He has been playing football since fourth grade, since he began playing for the Fox Lake Cardinals. In his Valley Lakes neighborhood, everybody played football. They played games in their front yards. His friends said he had size and speed so Miller decided to try out for football.

"I couldn't stop playing," he said. "I didn't know anything about the sport. My older brother played basketball. Another brother didn't play much. I was too young. I didn't know how to play. At first, I was scared to get hit. But when I started to play, I instantly loved it.

"What sold me was I liked how intense it got. You can hit people and not get in trouble. You can let a lot of anger out. I loved how pumped up you get for games. There is nothing else like it, especially when you win. But you have to work hard to win in football."

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn’t enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23.

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder’s 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scored 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

Perhaps it’s the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

The Bulls weren’t about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn’t relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Jimmy Butler’s 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could’ve trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can’t simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.

Marian Hossa scores game winner as Blackhawks beat Bruins

Marian Hossa scores game winner as Blackhawks beat Bruins

BOSTON (AP) — Marian Hossa scored with 1:26 left to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

Scott Darling stopped 30 shots for his second shutout of the season.

Tuukka Rask made 21 saves for Boston, which has lost three straight games and four of its last five.

It was a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup finals, when Chicago scored twice in the final 76 seconds of the third period in Game 6 to overcome a one-goal deficit and claim the NHL title.

This time, the game was scoreless before the Blackhawks made their final charge. The puck made its way to Tanner Kero on Rask’s left; he slid it across the crease for Hossa, who put it in the net.