Home win worth wait for Lake Forest
Waiting six weeks for a rematch against the first-place team was nothing. Not considering Lake Forest's girls basketball team waited more than half a season just to play a home game.
Strange but true.
The Scouts had their home opener on Wednesday night against Libertyville, and they played with enthusiasm and execution that suggested they were thrilled to be wearing their home white uniforms. Finola Summerville scored 16 points, Halle Douglass had 15 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals, and Lake Forest won 58-38, closing the game with a 20-4 run.
"It was totally a fluke," Lake Forest coach Kyle Wilhelm said of the scheduling quirk after his team improved to 16-4 and 6-2 in the North Suburban Conference. "I love it. To survive a 15-4, no-home-game stretch, I'm ecstatic."
Playing their first of 12 games at home to close out the regular season, before hosting a regional, the Scouts bolted to an early lead. A cold-shooting Libertyville team never recovered, despite a late rally.
The loss dropped the Wildcats (13-6, 7-2) out of sole possession of first place, as they along with Lake Forest and Zion-Benton have 2 conference losses each. Libertyville beat every opponent the first time through NSC play, before both Z-B and Lake Forest exacted revenge this week.
Libertyville had beaten Lake Forest 51-34 to open conference play on Nov. 27.
"Tonight was different in that we just had an 'off' shooting night," said junior guard Margaret Buchert, who scored 12 points and was Libertyville's only double-digit scorer. "We still played hard, and we had a good comeback at the end. Our shots were just not dropping at the start."
Libertyville made just 1 of 14 shots in the opening quarter, spotting the hosts a 9-3 lead, then connected on just 3 of 11 shots in the second and trailed 21-10 at halftime.
Lake Forest increased its lead to 29-10 two minutes into the second half, and Libertyville still had only 12 points midway through the third. But Buchert hit a 3-pointer, Libertyville's full-court pressure helped create 6 turnovers, and the Wildcats were within 32-24 entering the fourth.
Lydia Crow (5 points) finished a Buchert pass with a 3, and Libertyville trailed only 38-34 with 5:11 to go. The comeback ended there, though, as Lake Forest scored the next 17 points, finally solving the Wildcats' pressure.
"The energy that it would take to play that way for an extended amount of time would probably do us all in," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said. "It was unfortunate that we were in the position where we needed to do that. But Lake Forest played a great game, and they were focused and determined."
Summerville scored 9 points in the fourth and grabbed 3 offensive rebounds (7 rebounds, total, for the game).
"She played unbelievable," said Wilhelm, whose Scouts also got 12 points and 7 boards from Grace Tirzmalis. "She had a tremendous game, all around. Even the stuff (besides scoring) -- loose balls and deflections. If she was anywhere near, she won the 50/50 ball. Those are extra possessions that we get because of her.
"She just wanted a home game," added Wilhelm, smiling.
While Lake Forest has won nine game in a row, Libertyville has lost back-to-back games for the first time.
"We're just going to work hard in practice, do a lot of shooting and try to bounce back," Buchert said. "We have two nonconference games next week (against Grayslake North and Lakes), and we're just going to try to win those."
"We were fortunate to get through that first swing (in conference) unscathed," Pedersen said. "We know how hard teams are going to come at us in the second half. We've seen it twice in three days now. It's a challenge for our team to come back and adjust and improve."