Only a 1-point game at halftime?
Here's one way to create a little separation in the second half: Try to find Sarah Zellmann open on the perimeter.
With host Lakes' girls basketball team leading 20-19, Zellmann's pair of treys in the first two minutes of the third quarter helped ignite a 12-1 run to create that separation and lead to a 32-20 lead with 2:09 left in the frame.
"It was key for us to come out strong (in the third quarter)," said Zellmann, who finished with a game-high 10 points and helped lead the Eagles to a 42-32 Northern Lake County Conference victory over Wauconda in Lake Villa on Saturday afternoon. "Our energy was great and we had great spacing, which helped me get into the right spots for a shot."
A stifling defense also had a little bit to do with the third-quarter outcome as Lakes' pressure to the ball forced the Bulldogs into 7 turnovers.
"We had a couple of key stops to start the third and saw a window of opportunity and tried to seize it," said Eagles coach Brian Phelan, whose team started the year 2-7 but has since gone 11-4 to improve to 13-11 overall and 5-4 in the league. "We had a great defensive effort and just grinded out the win."
Despite a couple of brief exits due to foul trouble, leading scorer Allie Tylka led the Bulldogs with 8 points.
Lakes actually built as much as a 38-23 lead after Natalie Iacopetti's trey with 6:30 left in the fourth.
Wauconda wasn't going anywhere, though.
The Bulldogs made it interesting by answering with a 9-0 run. Senior guard Hayley Sutherland (6 points) scored three consecutive baskets and Tylka's free throw drew Wauconda to within 38-32 with 3:29 left. But that's as close as it got.
Sophomore forward Sara Smith's layup and Zellman's pair of free throws accounted for the final scoring.
"A big thing for us has been chemistry and holding each other accountable," said Zellmann.
Iacopetti finished with 6 points, while senior guard Shannon Hurlbut netted 8 and sophomore forward Paule Ceneac had 7, all in the second period. Ceneac's free throw with seven seconds left in the first half gave Lakes the lead for good heading to the locker room.
Senior forward Mallory Carver chipped in 6 points for Wauconda, which has lost four straight and fell to 10-11 overall and 2-7 in the league.