Sometimes, it's hard to defend the three.
But Libertyville boys basketball coach Brian Zyrkowski tried. After all, his Wildcats were playing rival Mundelein, which has enjoyed a resurgence this season.
Sometimes, though not often, a high school game produces 3 technical fouls.
"Two competitive teams were out there, and that stuff happens," Zyrkowski said after his host Wildcats won an emotion-filled, 80-54 battle that had players and fans from both sides fired up. "I thought both teams responded well to it."
Libertyville had more resolve, not to mention Drew Peterson, and pulled away to take over sole possession of first place in the North Suburban Conference, a half-game ahead of Warren and Waukegan, which play each other next Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (10-5, 4-1) were led by Peterson's game-high 23 points, including six 3-pointers, and 5 assists. Chase Eyre added 13 points and 8 rebounds, and Travis Clark came off the bench to score 12 points.
Sometimes, it's hard to defend the 3.
The Wildcats sizzled from three-point range, going 15 of 30.
"They're really good," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said after his Mustangs fell to 9-7 and 2-3 in the NSC with their third loss this week. "And when they shoot like that, they're really, really good. I thought we guarded them. We didn't give them anything. They made everything they threw up there."
The Wildcats' sharp shooting, including Eyre's buzzer-beating putback, helped them build a 15-7 lead after one quarter. By halftime, the advantage had swelled to 41-28.
"It was a fun game," Zyrkowski said. "This was a complete team victory. Everybody stepped up. Even the guys that weren't playing stepped up on the bench and were each factors in getting us motivated and ready to go. I thought we played every single possession."
One of those players on Libertyville's bench for most of the game was junior point guard Josh Steinhaus, who didn't start because of what Zyrkowski called "team stuff." Steinhaus was on the floor to start the second quarter, scored 8 points (two 3-pointers) on 3-of-3 shooting and was back on the bench after receiving a technical foul. He didn't play again.
"He needed to be a good teammate on the bench tonight, and that's what he was," Zyrkowski said. "I'm proud of him. He has had an incredible season."
The play of Libertyville's other guards made Zyrkowski's decision to sit Steinhaus easier. Brandon Simberg, who started along with Grant Bair, scored 9 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Brian Wilterdink (7 points, 3-pointer) and Josh Lilja provided quality minutes coming off the bench.
"We got a full team, and I think that's something we're proud of this year," Eyre said. "We got a long list of guys who can come off the bench and can provide sparks, offensively and defensively. Lots of guys stepped up tonight. Lilja did a great job. Wilterdink. Grant (Bair). (They) did their role."
Badgley gave 6-foot-7 freshman Scottie Ebube his first start and the task of guarding the 6-8 Peterson. Ebube responded with his first double-double, as he scored a season-high 11 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I thought he really played well," Badgley said. "We like Scottie's length, by all means. Scottie's going to be a huge part of our program the next few years. He's had some really good practices lately, and he's deserved opportunities."
Peterson sank only 1 basket -- a 17-footer -- inside the arc. His sixth 3-pointer beat the third-quarter buzzer to extend Libertyville's lead to 55-34.
"(Ebube's) a long guy," said Peterson, who attempted 19 shots, including 12 from beyond the arc. "He didn't come out as far, so I tried to shoot more 3s rather than get in the lane, and they were trying to pack it in a little bit. He's a great player."
Mundelein picked up 2 technical fouls in the second half. The intensity and scrappiness of the game didn't surprise Peterson.
"We knew they were going to come out and be physical, be chippy," Peterson said. "It's always how the game with Mundelein is just because of our rivalry."