Lake Zurich surprises Lake Forest
It was just another battle in the North Suburban Conference with Lake Forest and Lake Zurich knowing it would come down to the fourth quarter. It was just seeing who would end up as the early leader in the league's girls basketball race.
"Lake Forest is a great team," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said. "Watching Halle (Douglass) and Ella (Gilbertson) battle, honestly, I'd like to sit in the stands and watch."
What wasn't expected was how the Bears were able to close out the game in the final minutes for the 47-39 victory over visiting Lake Forest on Friday night.
The Bears (6-2, 3-0) remain unbeaten and in first place while the Scouts (9-2, 2-1) suffered their first league loss.
Minnesota-Duluth recruit Ella Gilbertson led the way for Lake Zurich with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Alayna Soukup added 12 points.
Between them they made 9 of 10 free throws in the final quarter while Margueret Spear scored all 5 of her points in the waning minutes with a 3-pointer and a short-range jump shot.
The Scouts' Douglass, a Wisconsin recruit, poured in 24 points and pulled down 9 rebounds while Molly Fisher added 10 points.
"We did make a lot of free throws. I think we finally got some open looks," Bennett said. "We figured out a little wrinkle, while that (Lake Forest) zone defense was really tough play against. We just made some good passes. Margueret hit a shot and Ella being aggressive toward the basket. We had a lot of our younger kids grow up tonight. This was a big time confidence builder as we head into tougher games."
The Bears were down 33-27 heading into the final eight minutes. They went on a 10-2 run and took a 38-35 lead on Spear's 3-pointer with 4:40 left.
But the Scouts found some energy to recover behind Douglass, who scored on a short jump shot and followed up with a couple of free throws for a 39-38 advantage with 3:20 remaining.
Lake Zurich took over from that point with the next 9 unanswered points all from the charity stripe.
"We knew Halle was on a roll," Gilbertson said. "We just had to control her and it was a team effort. We just couldn't have one on her, we all had to help out. We just had to play as a team. We just had to pinch and we had to collapse early in, just keep our hands up."
The Scouts have seen this competition before from the Bears over the last few years.
"It always is against Lake Zurich and I expect nothing less," Lake Forest coach Kyle Wilhelm said. "Chris always has them ready to play, play hard and very well prepared. It's a battle with Lake Zurich every year. We weren't making defensive stops and not finishing at the rim. (Lake Zurich) did a much better job getting to the rim and finishing. We had our chances offensively, but they made their free throws to seal the game."