With the type of night Wauconda senior Jarod Stonis was having, it almost figured that he would end up with the ball in his hands in the final seconds.
And that's just the way it worked out for the Bulldogs in their Northern Lake County Conference game at Lakes on Friday night.
Trailing 50-47 with 2.8 seconds remaining, Wauconda senior Kyle Drobnik found Stonis just outside the 3-point arc. With a Lakes player in his face, Stonis fired up an off-balance shot at the buzzer. The ball hit the back of the rim and bounced away, securing the 3-point win for the Eagles.
"Man, I will tell you, (Jarod) is such a good shooter -- I had to hold my breath there," said Lakes coach Chris Snyder. "I thought Stephen (Gerrits) did a nice job getting in his face a little to make him off balance."
The win closed out a week that saw the Eagles win at Grayslake North on Tuesday night before pulling out the close win Friday.
"Great week -- we talked about that in the locker room afterward," Snyder said. "We had the big road win at (Grayslake) North on Tuesday, and then to get this one . . . It's really good for the guys to start seeing the hard work pay off."
Lakes (9-11, 5-4) held a 41-33 lead with 5:33 left before Wauconda rolled off its first big run of the second half.
Stonis, who missed the majority of the first half while saddled with foul trouble, hit a running layup then converted a steal into a 3-point play. And just like that, Wauconda (8-12, 4-5) had caught the Eagles at 41-41 with 4:08 left.
"We have played some close games this year -- some overtimes games like this one -- so the kids know if they keep their cool they will be in the game," said Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager. "We got the look we wanted there at the end, we just mis-timed the game there at the end by inches."
Lakes built another 6-point advantage into the final minutes by riding the approach that got the Eagles their lead in the second half: getting the ball inside.
"The first half we were a little perimeter-happy," Snyder said. "The past couple of games we have played well, it's been an inside-outside mindset and we wanted to get back to that."
The beneficiary of the inside mindset was senior Ian Haflinger. He scored 8 of his 12 points after halftime, including a big putback with 2:05 left to help the Eagles extend the lead. He also added 11 rebounds.
The Wauconda offense got a much needed spark from sophomore John Jackson. Filling in for injured Jimmy Ott, Jackson found his shot, nailing 4 of 5 from deep to lead the Bulldogs to a co-game-high 15 points.
"Jackson had a phenomenal game for us," Luetschwager said. "He stepped up tonight and hit some really big shots."
Gerrits led Lakes with 15 points and also had 7 rebounds.