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Taylor-made victory for Grayslake C.
By Joe Aguilar | Daily Herald Staff

Grayslake Central's Casey Boyle defends against Waukegan's Jordan Johnson on Wednesday night at Grayslake Central.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Grayslake Central's Jordan Taylor drives on Waukegan's Jordan Johnson and Quintin Davis on Wednesday night at Grayslake Central.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Grayslake Central's Jordan Taylor, right, and Waukegan's Devonte Taylor scramble for a loose ball Wednesday night at Grayslake Central.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Grayslake Central's Casey Boyle, left, blocks the shot of Waukegan's Akeem Springs on Wednesday night at Grayslake Central.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/14/2011 11:55 PM

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That's a new 'do Jordan Taylor is sporting this basketball season.

"Everybody's trying to get me to cut it," Grayslake Central's senior guard and three-year varsity starter said of his longer hair.

That's a new position Taylor is playing, too.

"I'm more of a two guard now and not really the point guard as much," he said. "I'm just finding the open spots, and Casey (Boyle) getting (the ball) down low is making it open for me on the outside. Then when (the defense) runs out, I just break them down."

The wavy-haired Taylor wove through a sea of Waukegan defenders at the end of the third quarter Wednesday night, providing one of several highlights for the Rams in their 65-58 win over the highly talented visitors.

Taylor's Harlem Globetrotter-like dribbling is nothing new. Not that coach Brian Moe ever gets tired of seeing it from his 5-foot-7 ball wizard.

A crouched Taylor was dribbling at the top of the key in the closing seconds of the third, knees nearly touching the court, when he nearly lost the ball. He managed to keep his dribble alive and then quickly split at least three defenders, before flying in for an uncontested layup. His electrifying basket had the Rams up 51-41, matching their largest lead.

"He does things with the basketball on the floor, and I don't know how he does it or how he gets there," Moe said with a laugh. "I'm just glad he does it. It's going to be a hard year next year without him on the floor. He's been my security blanket for three years."

Taylor finished with 24 points for the second straight game. He scored all of his team's 14 points in the fourth quarter, making 9 of 13 free throws as well as a 3-pointer after Waukegan had pulled within 53-48.

Boyle had a season-high 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks for Grayslake Central (6-3), which won its fourth game in a row.

Waukegan (3-4) was coming off a 20-point win over previously undefeated Evanston last Friday night.

"It's great to get a win against Waukegan because they're usually a powerhouse in Lake County," said Boyle, the Rams' 6-foot-9 senior. "Getting a win against them was a big step forward for us."

"We're playing together, getting better as a team," Taylor said.

Taylor sank 5 of 6 foul shots in the final 38 seconds after Waukegan got within 60-58 on Emmanuel January's basket with 57 seconds left.

Grayslake Central protected the ball down the stretch, while also getting a big steal from Sean Geary and securing just enough defensive rebounds to keep Waukegan at bay.

"You can be a little looser with the ball early in the game, especially against a team like Waukegan where it's going to be an up-and-down game and you're going to get turnovers both ways," Moe said. "Any time you're fast-breaking, there are going to be a lot of possessions. The ball's going to be flying throughout the gym."

Mississippi Valley State-bound Akeem Springs led Waukegan with 20 points (three 3-pointers) and 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 senior guard scored 11 points in the fourth to help the Bulldogs stay in the game until the end.

Devonte Taylor added 10 points and 11 rebounds for Waukegan. Jordan Johnson scored all 11 of his points in the opening quarter to help the visitors take a 19-16 lead into the second.

Boyle hit his first 5 shots and had 16 points at the half. A 3-pointer by Tyler Smith broke a 32-32 tie early in the third, and the Rams never lost the lead.

"Our whole team just put a great effort together," Boyle said. "Everyone was diving on the floor, rebounding. Our intelligence wasn't too great toward the end, but the effort just surpassed it."