First, the walking wounded report:
For visiting Mundelein both Sean O'Brien and teammate Dylan Delaquila were sidelined with illness. And home-standing Lake Zurich matched that with injuries to Ryan Roach and Matt Moon.
With apologies to those athletes who missed Tuesday night's game, Mundelein was in town and the track meet on a basketball court went on as advertised. And when this North Suburban Lake contest was finished, even Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher was exhausted.
And his team won.
"I felt like I played in the game,'' Pitcher said after his Bears claimed a 70-59 victory. "It was such an intense game. It was up and down and had a lot of fastbreaks."
With both teams missing key players, someone had to step up. For the Bears (14-13), it was point guard Jack Arends. He's one who would rather distribute the basketball, but on this night the senior scored his team's first two baskets and was one of three Bears players who scored in double figures (13 points).
Arends' teammate Brad Kruse chipped in 16 points for the winners.
"Jack won't say it, but he got us going with those 6 points on fastbreaks,'' Kruse said.
Arends knows his team might see the Mustangs again in the regional so he was careful to be nice to the visitors.
"We focused on defense all week long,'' Arends said. "We all had to step up with our point guard out (Roach)."
For the Mustangs, it was the fourth loss in a row, which is naturally concerning. Robert Knar was held to just 1 point.
"He's frustrated,'' said his father and head coach, Dick Knar. "He's getting 2.5 minutes a quarter. And Lake Zurich did a nice job on him."
Early on it looked like the Bears might run away and hide. Sophomore Mike Travlos (who led all scorers with 21 points) managed his first basket of the game after a steal and it was quickly 10-2.
Mundelein (12-12) didn't quit. Quinn Pokora (14 points) had a personal 6-point run to close out the first half and the Mustangs were back within a point at the break, 31-30. Of course it did help to have senior Chino Ebube (18 points) controlling the glass.
"I just wanted the rebounds,'' Ebube said. "We are in just a little slump but we'll get through it. We need to stick with our guys and focus on what we have to do."
The second half is when Travlos took off from long range. His personal 8-point run in the third quarter included back-to-back 3-pointers.
"He can get really hot,'' Pitcher said.
The Bears also got help from 6-foot-5 junior Ryan Richman who grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench.
"He's a big, strong kid,'' Pitcher said. "And he listens and says, 'Yes sir' and 'Yes coach.' He has really improved."
On Arends' 3-pointer the Bears lead jumped to 48-36 late in the third quarter.
Neither team buried many free throws down the stretch.
"We could have had 80 points if we had made our free throws,'' Pitcher said.