2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/28/2017 11:05 PM

Team effort lifts Libertyville past Fremd

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Libertyville's boys basketball team showed Thursday that it is much more than the Drew Peterson show.

With Fremd playing solid defense on Peterson, Libertyville had its lineup step up big time in the Wildcats' 48-43 win in the quarterfinals of the 40th annual Wheeling Hardwood Classic.

It is the the third consecutive year Libertyville (7-4) has advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. The Wildcats will face Waukegan, who beat Libertyville last year in the third-place game.

"It was a team effort," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "All these guys knocking the shots down -- they did a great job."

Peterson, who has yet to commit to play college basketball, has been highly sought this season. Wisconsin was in attendance Thursday, while Creighton was out to see the 6-foot-8 swingman on Wednesday.

Both should have come away impressed as Peterson scored 16 points and had 6 assists on Thursday. That follows a 26-point, 5-assist effort Wednesday.

"It was an opportunity to see Drew do some other things for us today," Zyrkowski said. "Defensively, he was on top of our zone. He had a ton of assists tonight. He finds his teammates. He reads the floor very well."

Fremd (9-4), which does not have a player over 6 feet, 4 inches, made sure it knew where Peterson was the entire game. The Vikings had Bryce Hopkins guarding him and sagged on him every time he touched the ball.

"He is a difficult matchup because of his size," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "But I thought Bryce did a fantastic job on him."

The strategy worked early, keeping Peterson off the scorebook. But it also opened up the floor for the rest of the Libertyville offense. Josh Steinhaus and Brendan Cook both had a pair of baskets as Libertyville led 9-6 early.

Fremd struggled early in the half against the Libertyville 1-2-2 zone that featured Peterson on top. The defending tournament champions were patient offensively, but couldn't get their shots to fall.

Peterson began to spark the Libertyville offense, scoring 5 of his points and assisting on 3 baskets as Libertyville opened up a 22-12 lead with 4:25 left in the half on a basket by Brian Wilterdink (7 points).

Fremd finally started to solve Libertyville's zone defense. The Vikings also increased their pressure on the ball in their end of the court, forcing a pair of turnovers. The result was a 6-point spurt as the Vikings pulled to 22-18 on a layup by Isaiah Turner.

Peterson was able to get more into the flow of the Wildcats' offense in the third quarter. He scored 7 of his points in the period. But thanks to the hot shooting by Turner, Fremd was able to stay close and trailed 36-29 after three.

"I had a decent amount of assists," Peterson said. "I was really trying to find the open guys. They were playing physical and trying to double me, so it worked out."

University of Chicago recruit Ryan Martin kept the Vikings within striking distance when he nailed a 3 with 5:47 to make it 39-36 Libertyville.

Fremd cut the margin to 3 on three different occasions from there. The final time came on Turner's fourth 3 with 25.7 seconds left to make it 46-43. Steinhaus secured the win with a pair of free throws 8 seconds later.

"I had to be more confident with my shot," said Steinhaus, who finished with 12 points. "I was not as confident in my last game. But everyone stepped up tonight."

Turner led Fremd with 18 points while Martin had 14 and Hopkins had 8.

"I thought in the second half we were much more aggressive," Widlowski said. "It allowed us to get the ball inside more than we did in the first half."

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