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The beard, dirty blond and thick, looked better than the dunk attempt.
"I saw NBA players have them," said Jake Kohler, Lakes' rugged, 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior. "LeBron James and James Harden got those crazy ones that are growing out like to their knees. Everyone started telling me to grow mine out. I thought it would be pretty cool to have it for the season and put some intimidation in our opponents."
Lakes would settle for the rebounding tenacity of Kohler, Justin Bergeron and Direll Clark growing on the rest of the team.
Lakes' work on the boards, especially at the offensive end, helped key the Eagles' 55-38 win over visiting Wauconda in the teams' North Suburban Prairie Division opener Friday night.
The 6-4 Bergeron produced a game-high 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, including 6 offensive. He did all of his damage in the first three quarters.
"Hustle," Bergeron said of the key to getting hands on offensive rebounds. "When you see the ball, you start running toward it, read it off the board and just go up and get it. You treat it like a jump ball."
"We saw that our shots weren't going in, so we were just under the boards crashing them," Kohler said. "If Justin wasn't there, this game would have been a lot closer than the (final) score was."
Playing at home for the first time this season, Lakes (4-2) had ample energy at the start. The Eagles bolted to a 19-6 lead after one quarter, using what coach Chris Snyder called a "scramble" full-court press to disrupt Wauconda (1-4), which committed 9 of its 22 turnovers in the opening eight minutes.
"We just started working on that the other day," Snyder said. "We're an athletic team so I think we can use that to get us going. That gets us in the other court, where I think we're pretty effective."
Lakes couldn't hit an outside shot in the second quarter, shooting 4 of 19 with each bucket coming thanks to a putback -- two apiece by Bergeron and Clark. Clark finished with 11 points, and half of his 6 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Kohler's 5 boards included a pair on the offensive end.
The Eagles had such a hard time making shots in the second quarter that the athletic Kohler missed a two-handed breakaway dunk try.
"No excuses. I just missed it," Kohler said. "I always (dunk) in practice. I thought it was going to go in because it's always automatic in practice."
Lakes' shooting struggles continued after halftime. The Eagles were just 9 of 32 from the floor in the middle quarters but were able to extend their lead from 13 points after one quarter to 15 (43-28) entering the fourth.
Lakes' Andrew Spencer (11 points, 5 steals) hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third after Wauconda got within 33-27.
"After that first quarter, we got reliant on jump shots, and we just weren't hitting them," Snyder said. "So it was good to get on the glass and get some second-chance points. It kept us afloat and then we got back and got some energy in the fourth quarter."
Sophomore Ricky Sidlowski had 9 points for Wauconda, while guard Austin Swenson scored 8 points and hustled for a game-high 11 rebounds.
Lakes had 13 offensive rebounds.
"Defensively, rebounding-wise, we just didn't have great technique," Swenson said. "We weren't getting our butts low and pushing them out. We were trying to jump over them. It didn't work. They're just a little more athletic than we are."
Kody Thomas, who came in averaging 16.3 points per game, was held to 4 points. Bulldogs coach Scott Luetschwager said Thomas might have injured his hand in the first half and, as a result, the senior played limited minutes after the break.