Simply put, it's not nice to grab Josh Steinhaus by the neck. That will make the Libertyville junior concentrate even more at the free throw line.
In a 17-second burst of the fourth quarter, Steinhaus notched 6 free throws in a row. Of his 21 points, a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe stood out.
The second meeting between Libertyville and Mundelein on Tuesday night was extremely close at halftime. That's because Mundelein junior Jeff Bikus was on fire, having scored 16 points in the opening half.
But Steinhaus and the Wildcats pulled away from Mundelein in second half. With the 75-52 romp in Mundelein, the Wildcats forged a tie for first place in the North Suburban Conference with Stevenson.
"Mundelein came out with a chip on their shoulder,'' said Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski. "They had a ton of energy. Bikus had a great game for Mundelein. We really tried to guard him."
Also to Mundelein's benefit was the slow start by Libertyville's big offensive weapon, Drew Peterson. He had only 7 points at halftime.
While Bikus led all scorers with 16 at the break, the Wildcats (15-8, 8-3) had 13 points on the board from senior Chase Eyre.
"Drew was having an off night,'' Eyre said. "Tonight it was me and Stein. In the second half, Drew started to hit his shots. When all three of us are scoring, no one can stop us."
Mundelein (13-14, 3-8) had the quick start in this conference game. Bikus drilled a 3 early and the Mustangs were up 9-4.
Mundelein's last lead of the game came in the second quarter. On two free throws from Bikus, Mundelein led 18-16. The halftime lead for Libertyville was just 3 points at 28-25.
"In the first half, we came out a little lethargic,'' Steinhaus noted.
So what happened in the second half?
"Our three guys had great second halves,'' Zyrkowski added.
Steinhaus opened the second half with a 3. That seemed to inspire Peterson, who had 11 points in the third quarter on his way to finishing with 21.
Steinhaus took advantage of the technical foul situation to help the Cats up the lead to double digits in the fourth quarter. Eyre (23 points) was able to sit down after scoring 7 points in the fourth quarter.
Libertyville has three games left in conference play and two of them are
against Stevenson and Lake Zurich.
"It's up for grabs,'' Eyre said. "And this second half really proved we can play with anyone. We just need to keep attacking."
Young Conor Enright had a big second half and finished with 11 points for Mundelein. Bikus closed with 23 points.