Healthy again, Buchert keys Libertyville
Libertyville point guard Margaret Buchert is playing like the old Margaret Buchert, finally.
That's because she's pain-free, finally.
"The past two games I've been feeling really good and back to myself from last year," Buchert said Wednesday night after helping Libertyville take over in the second half en route to a 58-45 win over host Lake Zurich in a North Suburban Conference showdown. "It's nice because I can help my team more."
Libertyville (12-4, 4-1) is on its best run of the season with eight straight wins, and having Buchert and freshman Emily Fisher healthy at the same time explains a lot of the Wildcats' recent success. Buchert scored a team-high 17 points and added 4 steals against Lake Zurich (9-6, 3-2), four days after scoring a season-high 20 points against Homewood-Flossmoor at Benet Academy.
"She's been playing really well," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said of his DePauw University-bound senior and three-year varsity starter. "She was a force against Homewood-Flossmoor [51-44 win]. She was playing ultra-quick guards."
Buchert, who wears resistance bands on both knees due to tendinitis that she's had since freshman year, sat out the entire cross country season after cracking the femur of her left knee while playing AAU ball last summer. Then early this season she got hurt again. She tried playing through it before taking herself out of the Wildcats' game at Lake Forest on Dec. 3. She then missed back-to-back games.
"I was just having a lot of hip and knee pain," Buchert said. "I went to the doctor and trainer and they said there's like a contusion along my entire (right) hamstring that was causing a lot of pain in my knee."
Libertyville trailed Lake Zurich 28-24 at halftime, but Buchert helped key a third-quarter surge by scoring 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Libertyville outscored Lake Zurich 20-6 in the third, sinking 8 of 15 shots, including four 3-pointers. The Bears, in contrast, made only 2 of 12 shots from the floor.
"I think they took advantage of the hustle plays," Lake Zurich point guard Alayna Soukup, who had 10 points and 4 steals, said of the Wildcats. "We lost our focus and we let them get back into it, and then once they got a few buckets ahead, we weren't able to get back in the game."
Ella Gilbertson, who missed Lake Zurich's last two games at the Montini Christmas tournament because she and teammate Amelia Young were on a marching band trip in London, scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the first half. It didn't matter who Libertyville put on her.
"Ella's on a whole another level this year," Bears coach Chris Bennett said. "She knows how to attack the basket, when to attack the basket, how to get herself open."
Libertyville's Lauren Huber had 12 points and 6 rebounds and was one of four Wildcats in double figures. Fisher also scored 12 points, and Abigail Frea had 10 points (two 3s) and 7 rebounds. Libertyville is 6-0 since Fisher made her season debut after missing her team's first 10 games due to an injury.
Libertyville limited Gilbertson to only 2 shots in the second half. Marianna Morrissey's defense was key.
"The team defense in the second half was the difference in the game," Pedersen said. "We did not defend well in the first half. We had talked about all the different things that we wanted to do, but credit to Lake Zurich. They played a really great game."
Lake Zurich also got 7 points and 7 rebounds from freshman Baylie Parks.