Girls Basketball: Grayslake North looks to make the leapGrayslake Tuesday 06.05.12. Grayslake North High School girls basketball coach Nate Flannery works with player Joanna Guhl during a team practice on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at the school. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 6, 2012 6:55PM
During practice at Grayslake North on Tuesday morning, the girls were passing a basketball.
Not a torch.
That will come later, as all indications suggest after chasing crosstown rival Grayslake Central across the finish line year after year after year, the winter of 2012-2013 will be the winter of the Knights’ content.
And if/when that happens, it will occur under the watch of a new coach, with Nate Flannery taking over Jim Sarver, who had been at the helm since the school split off from Grayslake Central.
North returns its senior starting point guard in Jordyn Bowen, center Joanna Guhl, and junior shooting guard Kendall Detweiler.
They’ll be joined by junior and senior classes that have enjoyed success at every level of the Knights’ girls basketball program they’ve played at.
Last year, North went 21-9 — a school record for wins, albeit while playing a pillow-soft schedule — and won its first regional title before Central eliminated the Knights in the sectional semifinal round with a 56-30 beatdown.
Central’s Rams have not lost a Fox Valley Fox game in over two years, but the torch looks like it could be passed from the Central part of town to the North side.
“I think the expectations are high, and they should be high,” Flannery said. “There are a lot of talented girls here.
“We haven’t had Jordyn with us yet because the softball team is still playing, but last night, with Kendall and Joanna, you can see they’re talented high-school basketball players who do good things on the court. We have a great combination of guards and post players. There’s a lot to work with.”
The big thing for the girls will be learning a new system after toiling their entire careers under Sarver’s watch.
“All the girls who are here are working really hard. As far as learning new ideas offensively and defensively, they’re taking to it well,” Flannery said. “We’re going to be patient, work on it every day, and get to where we’re going. Some of the stuff we’ll be keeping in place.
“I have the same varsity assistant who was here last year in Coach (Troy) Harper, so he has a good handle on what things have worked the last couple of years. I have some things that I want to do, but at the same time, there are things that work well with this group of players and we want to keep going with some of that stuff too.”
One of the changes that has to be made is an upgrade in quality of opponents. Across town, Central has benefitted from playing the best teams it could find out of conference.
“This year, I didn’t have a lot of say in the schedule because it had already been drawn up for the upcoming season. But in years to come, I’d certainly like to step up the difficulty,” the coach said. “I did try to increase our summer a little bit by adding the Stevenson League on Thursday nights.
“We’re going to do a tournament at Stevenson as well and play some bigger schools. We’ll also be playing at McHenry in addition to the Monday-Wednesday league here in Grayslake, so we’re probably looking at getting 30-35 games in this summer.
“I think that will be great for myself in terms of getting to know the players and their abilities, and them getting to know the system.”