This Lakes team is tough to beat
When Lakes was in the midst of a five-game losing streak in December, when it slipped to a season-worst eight games under .500 a couple of weeks ago, maybe that Eagles team loses Tuesday night.
Maybe Michael Behrendt doesn't make a playground-style pass down the stretch and drop the ball softly into the hands of a teammate.
It's a different basketball team now, however.
"We're playing together a lot better," Behrendt said. "There's more trust."
That was evident again at Wauconda, as Lakes won 62-57 in Northern Lake County Conference action for its fourth win in five games, while avenging an earlier-season loss in Lake Villa.
"A road win is always good, especially at this place," Eagles coach Chris Snyder said. "The last few years this has been a tough place for us to win."
Brad Cherry scored a game-high 23 points to pace Lakes (9-14, 5-4). Behrendt, the three-year varsity guard, had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He also had a memorable assist, feeding Logan McCann with a behind-the-back dish. McCann's fastbreak layup hiked the Eagles' lead to 55-46 with 2:08 left in the fourth.
"I was feeling it," Behrendt said with a smile. "After a few buckets, the confidence goes up. (On the fastbreak), I had two guys with me and one defender. Once I saw the opportunity (for the behind-the-back pass), I knew the whole time I was doing it."
Lakes led 19-8 early in the second quarter when Nick Rinchiuso provided a spark coming off the bench for the home team. Rinchiuso scored a career-high 21 points for Wauconda (8-14, 5-4). The junior guard had 13 points on a variety of shots -- offensive rebound, pair of drives after steals, another drive, midrange jumper, 3-pointer -- to help the Bulldogs take a 23-22 lead late in the first half.
"I was trying to spark our team and create energy off the bench," Rinchiuso said after finishing 10 of 16 from the floor.
"He's so athletic," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "He's able to get inside and can knock some shots down. He's a nice little player."
Lakes regained the lead after Rinchiuso's flurry of points, but Andrew Nolan's jumper beat the buzzer and had Wauconda within 30-29 at halftime.
Nolan's hook shot, less than a minute after Cherry went to the bench with his third foul early in the third quarter, had Wauconda up 33-30. But Lakes responded with a 14-3 run that included 5 points from Wade Parmly (11 points, 6 rebounds) and a pair of buckets from Behrendt.
McCann took a pair of charges in helping Lakes take control and extend the lead to as many as 11 points in the fourth.
"I thought we were going to make a run (after Cherry went out)," Luetschwager said. "Everyone in the conference knows that Lakes is going to take charges."
Parmly's 2 free throws with 16 seconds left in the game lengthened Lakes' lead to six points and made the senior forward 7 of 7 from the line for the game. Cherry also knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minute.
"A month ago maybe we fold and lose (after failing to protect a double-digit lead)," Snyder said. "But I thought tonight we did a great job of saying, 'All right, let's get some stops and scores.' Some guys stepped up, especially with Brad out."
Jimmy Ott added 13 points for Wauconda, while Nolan finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds, while also taking a pair of charges.