Getting its first shot at a championship appearance in the Jacobs Holiday Classic, Lakes' boys basketball team found its final four matchup to be a grueling one, right down to the final few minutes.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, that trip to the finals will have wait. They came up short 66-58 in a semifinal loss to Crystal Lake Central on Friday night.
Lakes played without TJ Edwards, who missed the game with an injured ankle suffered Thursday.
Edwards will most likely be out for the third-place game as the Eagles (12-4, 3-1) play Barrington (9-7, 3-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Crystal Lake Central (11-1, 4-0) plays rival Crystal Lake South (5-6, 3-1) for the championship at 7:30 p.m.
"We are where we want to be this weekend," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. "We didn't get the goal we wanted, playing for the championship, but we'll come back and go after third place. We'll just turn the page and that's where our mindset will be."
Lakes tried to overtake Crystal Lake Central down the stretch in a back-and-forth final quarter.
Jack Kohler (8 points) hit a 17-foot jump shot that left the Eagles down 57-55 with three minutes remaining.
But the Tigers put together an 11-3 stretch run to finish, during which Corban Murphy scored 6 of his game-high 17 points, including 4 straight free throws.
"We're a senior-laden team, and in those situations experience can come through a bit," Crystal Lake Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. "It was a hard-fought game with two real good teams.
"Lakes was an athletic, deep, talented team. (Lakes) has a little bit of everything. On paper, I thought this was an even matchup. We were excited to play them."
Jacob VanScoyoc and Bradley Knoeppel each added 13 points, and David Panicko chipped in with 11 for the Tigers.
The Eagles were led by Direll Clark with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals, Andrew Spencer dropped in 13 with 5 steals.
"I thought we played hard out there, but missed some shots down the stretch," Spencer said. "We weren't able to match their shots.
"Most of our shots weren't in our offense. We just created offense, just by being playmakers. There weren't the shots we really wanted."
Lakes fell behind early 12-3 in the first four minutes of the opening quarter, then recovered to trail 16-15 by the end of it. The game was tied at 31-31 at the break.
The Tigers put together an 11-4 run starting the third quarter and took a 51-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
"(Crystal Lake Central) was a good team," Snyder said. "Toward the end, they were the ones that made the plays more than we did. That turned out to be the game. It was a good battle between two good teams and they got the upper hand."