It never fails, even in a Round Lake basketball season full of failure in the results department.
Basketball keeps Lucas Hollingsworth smiling and working hard.
"I love the game," Hollingsworth, the Panthers' rugged three-sport athlete, said with a smile. "That's what keeps me going. I love this school more than anything. I want to come back here when I'm older and support this school and make it better."
Things didn't get better for Round Lake's basketball team on Saturday, despite Hollingsworth's game bests of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Wauconda kept the Panthers winless on the season by capturing a 65-41 decision in a Northern Lake County Conference matinee after Friday night's scheduled game was postponed due to snow.
Wauconda (9-16, 6-6) has endured its share of failure on the court this season too, but it hasn't gotten the Bulldogs down. Coach Scott Luetschwager said his team even had fun in the locker room joking with a teammate who air-balled a couple of 3-pointers against Round Lake (0-23, 0-12).
"They're brothers," Luetschwager said. "Even when they're on each other's case, it's about how they can improve. It's nothing that's spiteful, nothing that's mean. They genuinely care about each other."
The Bulldogs welcomed sophomore guard Donovan Carter from Day 1, and the varsity rookie has been maybe the team's most consistent scorer. Carter had a team-high 10 points, including a 3-pointer, and 3 steals against Round Lake.
It was his 19th double-digit scoring effort in 25 games.
"They've all embraced me, even though I'm an underclassmen," Carter, who played on the sophomore team as a freshman, said of his teammates. "We've all bonded together."
Credit Wauconda's senior group of twins Andrew and Matthew Nolan, Matt O'Brien and Jimmy Ott.
"The seniors have definitely laid the groundwork for that," Luetschwager said. "We talk every year about the seniors leaving their thumbprint on the program. The (Nolan) twins are phenomenal, Matt O'Brien's phenomenal, Jimmy Ott's phenomenal. I don't have to worry about any of them. They're character kids."
Wauconda got 8 points apiece from both Nolans, O'Brien and Connor Brannick in snapping a three-game losing streak. Freshman Nick Bulgarelli had 7 points and 8 rebounds.
Round Lake has a character kid of its own in Hollingsworth. The Panthers dressed only seven players against Wauconda -- which has been the norm the last couple of weeks -- but they continue to get consistent production from their 6-foot-4 post.
"He's figured it out since Christmas break," Round Lake coach Jeremy Fisher said. "That's when he started to figure out how to use his body and be a more effective basketball player."
Besides Hollingsworth, guard Marco Barcenas (10 points) also scored in double figures for Round Lake. The Panthers' roster includes sophomores Elijah Jones and Jamirh Jones-Tolbert, neither of whom started the season on varsity, and freshman Nick Pierre.
"We're looking for growth from our kids," Fisher said. "If they make a mistake, we don't want to see them to continue to make the same mistake. That's the biggest challenge right now. When you haven't won, that tends to take up all of the focus."