Pakaski, Wauconda hang on for NLCC win over Lakes
Wauconda wanted to send a statement on Tuesday night.
Despite losing several players from last season's team, the Bulldogs were looking to open up the new calendar year with a signature road conference win.
Behind a collective effort, the Bulldogs accomplished their goal with a 62-55 win over Lakes in Northern Lake County Conference girls basketball action.
The Bulldogs (9-5, 3-1) needed all 32 minutes to record the victory even though they led by double digits midway through the second quarter and possessed an 11-point lead in the second half.
Wauconda senior guard Jessie Pakaski saved the day with some strong play on defense and a few timely shots, finishing with a game-high 23 points. She scored 6 points in the fourth quarter to help hold off a furious rally by the Eagles
Pakaski added 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and a blocked shot. Kelly McDonough tallied 4 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists. Kenna Wisniewski had 7 points and 10 rebounds, and Grace Parker collected 7 points and 6 rebounds for Wauconda.
Pakaski was all over the floor in the final minutes after the Eagles chopped the deficit to 51-50. The four-year varsity player scored two straight baskets, chased down a pivotal offensive rebound that led to a 3-pointer and added a steal and blocked shot.
"I just didn't want to lose," Pakaski said. "I'm super competitive and hate losing. I gave it all I could to help the team win."
Lakes nearly recorded a big win after not playing a game since Dec. 21. The Eagles (7-8, 2-1) were led by Clarity Turney tallying 15 points and 3 blocks to go with Janae Pullen hitting 5 3s for 15 points. Kendall Phelan chipped in with 11 points.
"We were down a lot, but then we had a couple of nice out-of-bounds plays that we executed," Lakes coach Brian Phelan said. "The girls fought back to give us a chance."
Lakes responded with a big rally to cut the margin to 51-50, but it was too much Pakaski in the end. Wisniewski hit a key 3-pointer from the top-of-the-key go extend the lead to 54-50 with 3:10 left, setting up Pakaski to take over the game on both ends in the last three minutes.
"They are always super aggressive and hanging around," Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said of Lakes. "We just had to work on ball control and make sure we took care of the ball. We struggled at times, but we executed down the stretch. It was a good team win. Everybody who hit the floor had a significant contribution."
The Bulldogs controlled the tempo for most of the first half, scoring the first 6 points of the game. But Pullen answered with back-to-back 3s from the same corner to tie the game. The Bulldogs, thanks to some turnovers by Lakes, scored the next 6 points to lead for the rest of the half.
With a loud student section in attendance camped in the far corner, the Eagles chipped away at the 10-point deficit to trail 28-24 at halftime. Kendall Phelan sparked the comeback with 6 points late in the second quarter. Turney had a big half with 9 points, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
"We just fell little short," Brian Phelan said. "We're getting a chance every game and the girls are buying in."