A slow start did not prove to be a detriment for the tortoise in his famous race against the hare -- but it sure turned out to be a deal-breaker for Lake Zurich on Saturday night.
The Bears played nearly even with Zion-Benton in the second half, but their slow start was the determining factor in a 69-55 North Suburban Conference Lake Division loss in Zion.
"In the first half, we played a little scared and they crashed the boards and we didn't do a good job of blocking out," said Lake Zurich junior guard Mike Travlos, who scored 14 of his team-high 18 points following intermission. "In the second half, we turned it up and were much more aggressive. What we learned tonight is that we have to come out with more energy and play the whole game the way we did the second half tonight."
Another junior guard for Lake Zurich (5-4, 1-2), Jack O'Neill, knocked down a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 15 points, while senior forward Corey Helgeson came off the bench to tally 10.
"At halftime, we looked at Zion's shots and they were all inside," said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher. "We sat back too much and let them get too close to the basket. In the second half, we met them outside the lane and boxed out much more successfully.
"We also tried different defenses against them, including a man, a 2-3 zone and a 1-3-1 zone, but two of their guys (Milik Yarbrough and Admiral Schofield) were too much for us. Jack O'Neill had a good game for us and we took a lot of charges, but we just couldn't get their lead under 10 in the second half."
Schofield, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, scored a game-high 21 points for the Zee-Bees (7-1, 3-0), thanks in part to some nifty passes from 6-6 senior guard Yarbrough, who poured in 20.
"Milik is a very good passer. He sees the ball and the court very well," said 25th year Zion-Benton coach Don Kloth. "He's multi-dimensional and he can score in so many different ways."
The Zee-Bees used a 10-0 run starting midway through the first quarter to take a 16-7 lead, then added a 9-0 run that began late in the first quarter to grab a 27-11 advantage. Halfway through the third quarter, Zion-Benton pulled out to an 18-point lead (48-30), and while the Bears chipped away several times the rest of the evening, they just couldn't reduce their deficit to single figures.
"We had a real good start this evening and that turned out to be a very important part of the game," Kloth said. "We also had guys coming off the bench who did well to give the starters a break, including Fred Calvert (3 fast-break baskets in the first quarter). Milik and Admiral really play well together. We had too many turnovers, but we attacked the basket well and finished strong.
"But I also have to give Lake Zurich credit. They're a good team and they battled back tonight. They shoot the ball well from the perimeter."