A pair of bruising losses didn't have Lake Zurich cruising into Saturday night's North Suburban Conference boys basketball crossover game at Wauconda.
But the Bears got into Kruse control early.
And Lake Zurich (13-9) raced away in the final 11 minutes to a 66-48 victory behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from senior Brad Kruse and 23 points from junior Mike Travlos.
"Every game counts," the 6-foot-4 Kruse said. "We wanted to bounce back from losses to Carmel and Lake Forest and I thought we did a good job of that tonight."
Especially since the Bears were out-rebounded 30-19 and Travlos and Kruse were held to 8 and 3 points respectively in Friday night's 61-46 loss at Lake Forest.
Kruse had 7 first-quarter rebounds and 6-6 Will McClaughry and 6-4 Jeff Zahery had 7 and 6 rebounds respectively to lead Lake Zurich to advantages of 35-20 overall and 15-6 on the offensive end.
"It was definitely an all-around better team effort (boxing out)," Kruse said.
"Brad played outstanding, not just in scoring but all over the floor with great leadership and communicating when we switched defenses a couple of times," said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher. "He really gave us a lift when we were struggling in the first half. His energy and intensity is contagious."
Wauconda (11-7) never led but hung close well into the third quarter and trailed 37-31 on a layup by Ricky Sidlowski (team-high 12 points). Kruse countered with one of his three 3-pointers and Zahery, Travlos and Dave Brown also connected from behind the arc in a 25-point third quarter.
Five extra chances off misses helped fuel the Bears' offensive eruption.
"When you give a team like that another chance they're definitely going to capitalize on it," said Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager. "There were times we gave them two or three times to do that. You have to take that moment away from them."
Travlos and Kruse both finished 7-for-12 from the field and senior guard Matt Moon came off the bench and had 7 assists. The Bears shot 50 percent from the field (14-for-28) in the second half against Wauconda's matchup zone.
"We did a good job of getting the ball to the middle and that opened up some real easy looks for us," Kruse said. "We struggled with zones earlier in the year, but we've played against so many we've finally gotten the hang of it and learned how to attack it."
Wauconda played without point guard Joey Lovelle, who was standing up in a family wedding. Dion Head had 10 points and Ben Carlson scored 8 points while Dylan Latiolais and Matt Bulgarelli provided a boost off the bench and combined for 10 points and 5 rebounds.
"We still have 11 wins and we battle and we compete," Luetschwager said. "We're playing against teams that definitely have talent and experience and have been there and done that before.
"We just ask our kids every day to come and fight hard and play hard and that's going to pay off for us."