2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/10/2017 10:26 PM

Basic principles serve Lake Forest against Lake Zurich

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By Jeff Newton
Daily Herald Correspondent

When it came time to finish the game, Lake Forest went back to basics.

That is, play good defense, rebound and make free throws.

In the fourth quarter of a home contest with Lake Zurich on Friday night, the Scouts' defense held the visitors to just 2 field goals in the final three minutes, limited the Bears to only 4 offensive rebounds the entire night.

And Lake Forest made free throws. The Scouts hit 21 of 26 from the line, including 15-for-18 in the fourth quarter to pull away and beat Lake Zurich 61-53.

"Rebounding, defensive rebounding, made a huge difference in the fourth quarter tonight," said Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala. "I also thought we defended the 3 a little better in the fourth quarter."

Lake Forest (9-13, 5-6) had to find a way to slow down Lake Zurich seniors Michael Bens and Ryan Kutsor from behind the arc.

Kutsor drained 3 from downtown while Bens was 6-for-12 from deep, with several of them coming from well beyond the 3-point line.

"I was feeling it early," said Bens, who led all scorers with 22 points. "I think we settled for the 3 a little too much there at the end instead of driving to the basket more."

The Scouts held a 42-38 advantage heading into the fourth quarter before Lake Zurich (16-8, 4-6) finally passed them up. Bens hit his final 3 of the night on a perfect skip pass from Kutsor to give Lake Zurich its last lead at 45-44 with 5:01 to play.

Following a timeout, Lake Forest responded with a 7-2 burst that closed on a runner from Brian Stickler (20 points), which gave Lake Forest the lead for good with 2:47 left.

"I thought Phil did a great job mixing it up defensively -- not giving us the same look every time down the floor," said Lake Zurich coach Chris Pickens who filled in for head coach Billy Pitcher (family commitment). "(Lake Forest) also killed us on the glass -- I think we only had a handful of offensive rebounds, which is what they do best."

Lake Zurich held the lead through most of the first half and continued to build on a 30-29 halftime advantage in the third quarter. A pair of long 3s from Bens helped Lake Zurich stay in contact with Lake Forest as the lead changed hands six times in the third.

"The 3 is what really hurt us the first time we played them," LaScala said. "They can really shoot, so we tried to not give them the same look each time and get in the faces of their shooters."

Kutsor paced the Bears' offense in the first half scoring all 13 of his points before halftime. Lake Forest senior Justin McMahon added 15 points to pace the Scouts.

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