The defensive specialist ended up being pretty special on offense, too.
Lake Zurich senior guard John Repplinger, known for his lock-down defense, got busy on the offensive end Monday night in the first round of regional action against visiting Libertyville.
Repplinger scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as the No. 12 Bears pulled out a 70-65 win and advanced to tonight's regional semifinal against fifth-seeded Mundelein.
"I'm not ready to be done playing high school sports yet," the 5-foot-11 Repplinger said. "I just wanted to come out and make sure we didn't end our season tonight. I felt like I needed to score tonight and do what I needed to do for us to advance.
"I didn't play my best defensive game. I knew that since I wasn't playing as well as I usually do on defense that I had to step it up on offense. I just tried to be aggressive and take it to the hole and shoot when I was open."
Repplinger, who helped Lake Zurich pull to .500 at 15-15, had a tough defensive assignment.
He was on Libertyville 6-foot-4 junior guard Jack Lipp. Lipp went off for a game-high 26 points, including three 3-pointers, and almost single-handedly willed Libertyville to victory.
The No. 21 Wildcats (6-21) were down by as many as 12 points early in the third quarter. But Libertyville closed out with a 20-7 run and Lipp scored 12 of his 14 third-quarter points during that run.
"We were doing different things to get Jack the ball," Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. "We just gave him the ball and cleared out a few times. He was just feeling it. He really was carrying us there for a while."
Libertyville entered the fourth quarter with a 1-point lead (48-47) and the game ebbed back and forth until Repplinger canned a 3-pointer with about three minutes remaining to give Lake Zurich a bit of breathing room (58-53).
Then Lake Zurich ran a home-run play out of a time out and sophomore guard Mike Travlos scored a layup off a full-court baseball inbounds pass.
That put Lake Zurich up 60-55 with about 90 seconds to play and the Wildcats had to start fouling. Lake Zurich knocked down 10 free throws down the stretch, and 14 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter overall.
"We knew it was going to be a war," said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher, who also got double-figures out of Travlos (16 points) and sophomore center Will McLaughry (12 points). "Libertyville might be the best 21-seed ever. They've been playing really well lately as they've gotten guys back. Record-wise, I knew they were much better than their record. I just never really felt comfortable until the final buzzer."
Libertyville, which also got 12 points from sophomore forward Drew Cayce and 11 points apiece out of senior forward Jack Deichl and sophomore forward Joe Borcia, has been facing an uphill battle all season with a revolving door of injuries and illnesses.
"It felt like we never really got our full team out there this season," Lipp said. We always had someone injured or hurt. I think that if we would have had our full team, we would have had a better record and we'd still be playing right now."