When Grant High forward Jamey Ekerling picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter, it looked bleak for the Lancers.
Ekerling is not an All-City forward, but he was the fourth Grant player to draw at least two fouls in the first half of Wednesday night's City Section 3-A Division quarterfinal playoff game against Wilson.
"I was worried," Grant Coach Howard Levine admitted afterward.
He didn't have to be. Levine turned to his reserves, who helped vault Grant to a 59-53 victory over Wilson at Grant.
Grant (19-3) plays Friday in the semifinals against University, a 75-61 winner over Bell. The site of the game will be determined today.
Chris Cooke, Mike Fried and Nate Conner came off the bench in the second quarter and kept the Mules at bay while three Grant starters sat on the bench with foul trouble.
"We're overachievers," Levine said. "We've been doing that since summer, doing whatever it takes."
Grant held a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Lancers were already in foul trouble. Center Troy Mcleod, who is averaging 8.6 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, picked up his second foul with 54 seconds left in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the half.
Forward Danny Enowitz, the team's leading scorer, picked up his second foul 1:20 into the second quarter and did not return until the second half.
"We weren't rebounding and every time they got a rebound, we fouled them," Enowitz said.
With Enowitz out, Fried scored five points on a layup, a 17-foot jump shot and a free throw.
"Mike Fried played the game of his life," Levine said.
"Fried was great."
And he was not the only one. Cooke, a seldom-used 6-7 junior center, played four solid minutes in the second quarter.
"When we had to sit Enowitz and Mcleod down, we held our ground," Levine said.
Conner, a junior guard playing in his third game since missing two months because of an ankle injury, scored 8 points, including 6 in the fourth quarter.
"It was a team effort," said Grant guard Adi Saker, who finished with eight points.
And although Levine had to go farther down the Grant bench than he is accustomed, he remained confident.
Enowitz finished with a team-high 13 points and 9 rebounds and guard Sean Watkins added 10 points. Eric Arreola led Wilson (18-6) with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mules cut an 11-point deficit to three at the end of the first half with most of the damage coming when the Lancers, afraid of committing more fouls, shied away from the defensive boards.
Eight of the Mules' final 13 points were the result of offensive rebounds.
But when Grant's starters returned in the second half, the Lancers were able to mount a counterattack, outscoring Wilson, 31-27, to preserve the win.