Her streak had to end somewhere, and the moment came early in the fourth quarter.
That’s when Lake Zurich forward Elly Daleske made a gorgeous bounce pass to teammate Megan Holbrook for the score.
What Holbrook’s tally ended was a third-quarter domination by Daleske. She scored every single point Lake Zurich posted in the third quarter.
Daleske, a soccer player, was clearly the best basketball player on the court in Monday’s regional opener at Rolling Meadows. Her 19 points were the decided difference as the Bears (8-18) upset 10-game winner Libertyville, 37-33. It also avenged two earlier losses to the Wildcats during North Suburban Conference play.
“We played with no regrets,’’ Daleske said. “It started with our team defense. I needed to do my best. It was the playoffs and nothing else matters.”
Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett certainly applauded the junior’s effort on this night.
“Up to 2 months ago, she was a soccer kid playing basketball,’’ Bennett said. “She’s really never been a basketball player. But she’s so athletic and has a nice 15-foot shot as well. She plays hard. It was totally Elly tonight.”
Both teams knew what was at stake and treated the fans to a tight and well-played game the whole night. Neither team could pull away. On a personal 4-point run from Theresa Baumann, the Bears opened up a working margin at 15-11 early in the second quarter. That lead didn’t last long. On a rebound bucket from Maggie Piazzi, the LZ lead was down to 15-14.
“We got the looks we wanted to,’’ said Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen. “And Lake Zurich came out hitting shots. It was hard to adjust.”
Holbrook’s layup from Daleske’s feed opened up the fourth quarter, but it only temporarily ended Daleske’s streak. After her 8 points in the third quarter, Daleske added 3 more points early in the final quarter.
On a tough lay-in from Casey Mcginnis, the LZ lead looked in good shape at 33-26 with five minutes to play. That’s when Libertyville’s 6-foot-1 center, Becky Deichl, made her move.
First she nailed the game’s only 3-pointer to pull her team within 33-29. She then corralled a rebound on the floor to keep the possession of the ball for her squad. Her following layup cut the Bears’ lead to 33-31.
“She’s got some range,’’ Pedersen said of Deichl. “She brings us some athleticism. We expect big things from her next year.”
Lake Zurich ended Libertyville’s season at the free throw line. Daleske and Rachel Kuehr combined to go 4-for-4 at the line in the final minute.
Next up for Bears is top-seeded Rolling Meadows on their home floor on Tuesday.
“If we beat them, it will be unexplainable,’’ Daleske said.
For the Wildcats (10-18), there is always next year.
“We lose seven seniors,’’ Pedersen said. “But our JV and freshmen teams had good years. Our future looks good.”