Boys basketball coach, team win 200th game, end winning season

Grayslake North Knights Boys Basketball Season


Jack Larson

Tony Hines II drives, making a tough layup over the defender. Hines leads all scoring in this game, leading the Knights to win against the Grayslake Central Rams.

The 2020-2021 basketball season was on the edge of not taking place at all due to the COVID positivity rate spiking to a record-breaking high, halting all practices and games for the winter season. After a month of not playing, players eventually reported back to practice knowing their season was still alive. 

Due to the late start, the basketball team only played conference matches, facing each opponent twice, with two games per week and an occasional weekend game. Even though it was shortened, the boys basketball team had an unbelievable season due to how their team played this year under coach Todd Grunloh. Their last contest, which ended with a game-winner, was extra special for Coach Grunloh who capped off his 200th win as GNHS basketball coach. 

“After we got on the bus and I had more time to reflect on #200, yes, it was a pretty special moment. I have been here from the beginning, and like most sports, we got off to a rough start with only juniors in 2005-06 as we finished 1-26. More than anything else, I was just proud of how far we have come as a program and extremely grateful for all the past players and coaches that made it possible,” said Coach Grunloh.

This year for the players and teams to be able to play, the players’ families were allowed to have three tickets to each home game to keep the capacity at no more than 50 fans in attendance. Even though students could not support the team in person, they could instead join the live stream; every home game was live streamed to watch on any electronic device. 

“Without superfans, it feels like the energy during the game isn’t there compared to past years. Especially during rival games against Lakes and Central, the students aren’t there cheering you on in the loud gym and there isn’t as much tension between the two schools during the game. The atmosphere was just different during those rivalry games, but now there are 50 people in attendance and the gym is almost silent,” said senior David Rennolds.

This year, the Knights made great strides, going 5-2 in the Conference and ranking as a top team. Some of the best memories were made this year with great success and memorable shots.

“The win against Antioch was super fun and unique because it also marked Coach Grunloh’s 200th win as head coach,” said senior Evan Mittlestaedt.

The team’s last game was filled with storylines as everyone in school was posting all over social media about Joe Valera’s shot. It made it extra special being long-time varsity coach Grunloh’s 200th win in the program. Team and individual achievements were reached in this game.

David Rennolds also mentioned that his friend’s dunk was one to remember. 

“Evan dunking on Senior Night was a great way to end the game, and it was awesome to see someone who comes off the bench get an amazing highlight,” Rennolds said.

The dunk at Senior Night was the only dunk made all season, and resulted in excited reactions by the bench and the coach. Despite the risk of not having a season at all, the Grayslake North Knights basketball team made it extra special this year, putting everything they had into this season. The Knights ended up finishing on a positive note with a winning record overall and in the conference. 

Grayslake North vs. Grayslake Central
Sophomore Jacob Donahue walks back to the team huddle. Photo by Jack Larson.