Libertyville wasn't finishing as it was starting the girls basketball season with five straight losses.
Now the Wildcats are starting to put everything together and are looking at a final four finish in the Mundelein Holiday Classic. They built a 14-point halftime lead in Thursday's quarterfinals and closed out an impressive 55-28 victory over Prairie Ridge.
"Yesterday (Wednesday's 62-33 win over Grant) and today were some of our best games of the year," said senior Dana Kym after she matched junior teammate Rosie Lynch for game-high scoring honors with 12 points. "The whole team stepped up and played great defense and so many people are stepping up on offense.
"At the beginning of the season we had a hard time finishing in the third quarter and we'd let down. Some of our (North Suburban Lake) games we couldn't finish and we lost to Stevenson by four (31-27). Now we're playing a good game for all four quarters."
Senior Olivia Mayer, the only returning starter from last year, added 10 points as the Wildcats (6-9) advanced to today's 3:30 p.m. semifinal. They'll face Cary-Grove (8-5), which was placed in the semis of the 12-team tourney despite a 44-33 quarterfinal loss to Vernon Hills (16-0).
Vernon Hills plays in the 5 p.m. semifinal against Streamwood (14-2), which escaped with a 65-56 double-overtime victory over Conant (5-10).
"We're getting more playing time and more playing experience and the younger kids are getting looks and starting to capitalize," said first-year Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen. "The seniors are getting better and better as the year goes on and the core of three seniors (Haley Hoeksel, Kim and Mayer) are carrying us.
"We're playing really strong defense. We've seen it a bunch of times this year, if we get it done on the defensive end, the offense can take care of itself. We're getting more and more confidence on offense."
Prairie Ridge (9-4) scored just 3 first-quarter points and trailed 44-22 after three without Sarah LaBeau, who scored 19 points in Wednesday's opening win over Hoffman Estates but didn't play because of a soccer tournament commitment. Kelly Klendworth led the Wolves with 10 points.