Lake Zurich nets first win under Coughlin
Take it from the former new guy. There's an adjustment when you come to a new school.
"There are going to be highs and lows," Lake Zurich senior point guard JR Cison said. "You just got to stick with it, and it usually plays itself out."
It did for Terry Coughlin on Tuesday night. After losing his head-coaching debut in heartbreaking fasion the previous night, Coughlin picked up his first victory. Will Tucker poured in a game-high 15 points on five 3-pointers, Cison added 14, and Lake Zurich defeated host Richmond-Burton 58-35 in the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving tournament.
When Coughlin walked into the locker room after the game, his players doused him with water from their plastic bottles.
"That was really special," said Coughlin, 35, who coached the last 11 years as an assistant at New Trier, his alma mater. "It choked me up a little."
Coughlin blamed himself for the Bears' season-opening loss to Crystal Lake South in which they failed to protect four-point leads in the final minute of both the fourth quarter and overtime. He liked how his team rebounded the ball better against Richmond-Burton and held the pesky opponent to 11 points in the first half.
Coughlin deflected credit, however, putting put the focus on his players.
"They welcomed me with open arms the moment I got here," said Coughlin, who didn't get the Lake Zurich job until early June after Billy Pitcher left to become Lake Park's head coach. "They didn't have to do that. Especially coming in so late -- they were done with the school the day I got the job -- we had a lot of challenges that got thrown at us early. We talked to the kids about embracing that."
A year ago, Cison was the newcomer after transferring from St. Viator. So he can appreciate Coughlin's feel-good night.
"I think it means a lot," said Cison, who scored a career-high 32 points in the season opener. "Not only for him but for the program. Getting that win as a group, as a team, just really meant a lot for all of us."
Lake Zurich jumped out to an 11-7 lead after one quarter as another newcomer, Grant transfer Matt McGraw, scored 6 of his 12 points. The Bears were up 20-11 at halftime and then blew the game open in the third, outscoring the undermanned Rockets 22-11, as Tucker buried a pair of 3-pointers.
Richmond-Burton, which is missing a handful of players whose football season ended just last weekend, defeated Lakes in OT on Monday night.
Bryan Sanborn scored 9 points coming off the bench for Lake Zurich.
"It could have been very easy for us to walk out after last night super dejected, super low," Coughlin said. "It's tough to come back 24 hours later to play against a style that can be tough to play against, against a really well-coached team. I know (Richmond-Burton) is missing some of their football guys, but they beat a really good Lakes team last night. They're a formidable opponent that runs its stuff as well as any team we're going to see the entire year. They are crisp in what they want to do."
Lake Zurich resumes the tournament on Friday against Lakes, and the game was moved up to 11 a.m. The tournament finishes up Saturday at Johnsburg.