Mike Travlos was a long way from descending into Hack-a-Shaq territory with his free-throw shooting.
But his solid 75-percent accuracy this season was still a slight dip from a year ago. So, the Lake Zurich junior decided to do something about it before Wednesday night's North Suburban Lake boys basketball game with visiting Libertyville.
The results were perfect for Travlos as he made all 12 of his free-throw attempts -- with eight in the final 1:23 -- en route to a game-high 27 points as the Bears pulled away to a 69-57 victory.
"I've been working on it the last few days and it paid off today," Travlos said after his up-and-under scoop on a baseline drive with 3:29 left broke a 55-55 tie and started a 10-point Bears' run.
Junior Jack O'Neill, who banked in a 50-footer to give the Bears (6-4, 2-2) a 49-45 lead at the third-quarter buzzer, hit all 4 of his free throws in the last 1:39 to finish with 12 points. They finished 20-for-24 at the line to 7-for-12 for Libertyville (5-3, 1-3).
"I thought we took some high-percentage shots and we've really been working on that this week," said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher, whose team was 7-for-12 from 3-point range. "Between O'Neill, (Brad) Kruse and Travlos, we have three good guards so we shouldn't take a bad shot.
"Our guys did a great job of getting the ball to the right people."
Kruse had only 6 points but had 6 assists and 7 rebounds as the Bears had a 34-24 advantage. Kruse, Corey Helgeson and Matt Moon also contained Libertyville senior Jack Lipp to a team-high 14 points on 5-for-14 shooting.
"Our plan was to rotate those three at him," Pitcher said, "and wear him down and wear him down, and I think it made a difference."
Lipp missed 5 of his 6 second-half shots after scoring 31 points in Saturday's loss to Lake Forest. Matt Reed and Conor Peterson added 10 points apiece and 6-10 junior Joe Borcia had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
But a chance to take the lead after three quarters took a stunning turn for the Wildcats when a turnover led to O'Neill's bomb off an inbound pass.
"That was really a great play for us momentum-wise," Pitcher said.
"That was big," Lipp said. "That made it a 4-point deficit and we had to claw our way back. It was tiring coming from behind and you have to really push it."
A 4-point play by Reed helped the Wildcats erase an 8-point deficit and tie it twice on Lipp's running jumper and his baseline drive and layup assist to Bryan Scanlan. But they missed their last six 3 attempts in their third straight loss.
"This was a game we thought we could get, so it's not good that we ended up losing it," Lipp said. "It would have given us some good momentum going to Proviso (West tournament)."
Will McClaughtry added 7 points and 6 rebounds while battling Borcia, and Jeff Zahery hit two 3s off the bench as the Bears rebounded from consecutive division losses to Lake Forest and Zion-Benton.
"We were under control and the last few games when we were in a similar situation we lost control," Travlos said. "We worked in practice a lot against 7-on-5 defensively, holding the ball, staying under control and not getting too wild."