Junior guard/forward Grace Hall doesn’t always follow the script for Homewood-Flossmoor.
Ad-libbing is a big part of her game.
“When we run a play, if I see a certain shot that I can take, I might take it,” Hall said. "It’s more natural for me to shoot a fadeaway or off of one foot.
“If I’m swirling the ball under the basket, that’s just what I do naturally.”
Or as Vikings coach Tony Smith tells it ...
“She’s a little unorthodox,” Smith said, laughing. “Sometimes Grace gets bored with the fundamentals. Sometimes she might not jump off the proper leg, sometimes she might not drop step the right way.
“But she’s so agile and so athletic. She can contort and get that ball up on the glass and put it inside the hole.”
Just call her an unnatural natural.
“She gets it done,” Smith said. “She has a lot of instinct. I think we can thank her parents. She has good genes.”
Hall’s father, Antwon, was a standout at Hillcrest and played at Arkansas and Life University. He was the NAIA Player of the Year in 1998. Her mother, Maya Wynn, played at Rich East.
Her older brother, Grant, is a senior forward at Thornridge. He was a double-digit scorer last season for the Falcons.
In a way, her brother was a bigger influence in her playing than her parents were.
“The thing is, my dad didn’t care if I played or not,” Hall said. "My mom was the same way. My biggest thing was I wanted to play because everybody wanted my brother to play so bad.
“I was like, ‘Man, I can do this.’ That’s why I wanted to play.”
Hall was brought up to the varsity as a freshman. She came off the bench as the sixth player.
Smith had plans for her to contribute on a more regular basis as a sophomore. When injuries took three regulars off the floor, Smith called her number as a starter.
Hall didn't disappoint, averaging 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots.
“Injuries gave her a chance to grow up,” Smith said. "She didn’t have any other options. She became the option, and I think that helped her grow a lot.
“As a sophomore she really came into her own. People thought she was a junior or a senior. She was that dominant. And we’re looking for her to continue in that role.”
For Hall, it was a bit daunting, but not overwhelming.
“It was a lot simply because I had to do more,” she said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you need to go in, get a couple of reps and we’ll rotate.’ It was, ‘No, you’re staying on the court and you need to be productive.’”
One of Hall’s biggest nights came in a Class 4A regional final against Marist. She finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds as the Vikings pulled off a 41-30 upset.
As an encore, she followed up with 13 points in the sectional semifinals against favored Thornwood. Her steal and score with 48 seconds remaining put H-F ahead for good in a 38-35 victory.
The sophomore came through.
“That was all coach Smith,” Hall said. “He knew what he wanted us to do. He made up a lot of plays and we watched a lot of film. We were well-prepared for every game.”
A year later, she wants more.
“Our goal is state,” Hall said. “That’s our only goal.”
Hall smiled at the mention of personal goals.
“I want to contribute to our wins, that’s all,” she said. “Everything else is secondary.”