Dominating big man John Kerr leads Grant past North Chicago

Grant's John Kerr (24) scans the court for an open player against North Chicago. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

There isn’t any flash to John Kerr’s game. Grant’s 6-6 center gets the ball and finishes at the basket with no wasted dribbles or stylish moves. The senior is raw production.

He’s averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. Kerr took things to an even higher level on Friday in Fox Lake. He scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a 80-74 win against Northern Lake County rival North Chicago.

“He’s rock solid,” Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. “He’s not doing this against small opponents. He’s done it against North Lawndale, Zion-Benton and Fremd. He’s a heck of a player.”

Kerr alone wasn’t enough to beat the Warhawks (13-7, 10-1). He had 26 points after three quarters and the Bulldogs were trailing 55-46. Then all of a sudden his teammates started to heat up.

“[North Chicago] started totally focusing on me, which is great,” Kerr said. “It opened things up for everyone else on offense. And we played phenomenal defense in that last quarter and just out-rebounded the crap out of them.”

Seniors Kyle Dupree and Ben Kusiak were the two forces behind the fourth quarter comeback. Dupree is a brave player, the guy on the team that comes off the bench to do the dirty work. He also has a penchant for hitting clutch shots.

Dupree drained the three-pointer with 53 seconds to play that put Grant (14-8, 9-1) ahead 72-69.

“That kid is the most clutch shooter that’s come through this program,” Bosworth said. “I don’t know what the percentage is or anything but I feel like he’s hit every big shot he’s taken.”

Kusiak took the ball coast to coast with 30 seconds left to break another tie and then drained two free throws with 24 seconds to play to help seal the win.

“We always thought we could win,” Kusiak said. “All we had to do was work as a team and communicate and start knocking down the shots that we weren’t.”

North Chicago junior Tyrek Cooper finished with a 26 points. He scored 13 in the fourth quarter, at times it appeared he was going to single-handedly shoot the Warhawks to the win.

“I don’t know if we were too worried,” Kusiak said. “We just had to get tighter on him, he’s a great shooter.”

Kusiak scored 16 and had six rebounds and Dupree added 18 points and seven boards.

“We needed this one badly,” Dupree said. “I just do what I have to do to get the job done. The fourth quarter was indescribable, it was crazy. I’ve never been a part of anything like that before.”

A group of Grant fans were waiting to applaud the team as it exited the locker room. Kerr received the loudest applause. He’s planning to play basketball in college.

“I’m not sure where I’m going to go yet,” Kerr said. “I’m going to decide after the season. I have offers from a couple of Division 3’s and two NAIA schools. Hopefully I will get a few more looks after this game. I’m just glad we got this win.”

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