Mundelein guard Nate Williams emerged from his team's locker room with the game ball late Tuesday night.
Sophomore coach Fidel Garcia had handed it to him.
"He said, 'Here, Willie. You take this,' " Williams said, smiling.
Williams then delivered the ball to Mundelein head coach Corey Knigge, but the senior guard might have earned it with his performance in the Mustangs' 77-69 win over Lakes on Day 2 action of Mundelein's Thanksgiving tournament.
Williams scored a career-high 28 points and was one of five Mustangs in double figures, as they earned their first victory under Knigge.
Knigge is on a roll. His first child, son Conner, is three weeks old.
"Hopefully he'll be able to come check out a game soon," the new daddy said.
In a wild game against Lakes (0-2), Mundelein (1-1) jumped out to a 14-3 lead but couldn't make it last. The Mustangs couldn't make it last but were up 37-34 at halftime. Williams then led an inspired third quarter by the hosts, who never secured a comfortable advantage until the final minute.
Tramone Hudson scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter for Lakes. Ethan Sage posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles, while Devyn Cedzidlo (11) and Michal Tomasiewicz (10) also scored in double digits. Tomasiewicz had a dunk. Benett Haviland chipped in 8 points.
"We're just not consistent right now," said Lakes coach Chris Snyder, whose team graduated all five of its starters from last season. "We're young and we play that way. Rebounding would probably be the biggest issue right now. We're just giving up a lot of second-chance shots. It's something we got to shore up."
Knigge liked the sustained effort by his club compared to its season-opening loss to Lake Forest Academy on Monday.
"We had a couple of lulls here and there, but I thought our effort was good for a good percentage of the game tonight," Knigge said. "I think that was the biggest difference."
Williams scored 15 points in the third quarter, taking over the game in helping Mundelein stretch its lead to 65-50 entering the final quarter.
The Mustangs outscored the Eagles 28-16 in the third.
Williams shot 9 of 23 from the floor and 7 of 11 from the line. He sank two of his three 3-pointers in the third.
"He can score," Knigge said. "He just needs to understand that there isn't anybody on the floor that can guard him. I kept telling him, 'Get in the lane, get in the lane, get in the lane.' When he gets in the lane, it's going to open up everything else for him. ... He's got to think inside-out, rather outside-in."
On a squad last season that featured Sean O'Brien (Southern Illinois) along with four other senior starters who were capable of scoring the ball, Williams wasn't necessarily counted on to fill the basket when he came in off the bench.
His role clearly will be different this season, which is his third on varsity.
"Last year I could distribute to those guys," said Williams, who had 18 points in Mundelein's season opener. "I really didn't need to step up a lot and score. But we lost a lot of seniors, and now with me being a senior I have to step up not only on offense but defense and set the tempo."
Mundelein also had a player who notched a double-double, as J.T. Michalski scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting (one 3-pointer) and grabbed 11 rebounds (6 offensive). Derel Parola (two 3s) and Sam Nelson also scored 11 points. Sophomore Pierre Bailey had 10 points and 9 rebounds, and little guard Nick Filippo hustled down 5 rebounds (3 offensive) and scored 3 points.