Williams hits 1,000 mark as Round Lake downs Wauconda
This is about more than the team.
Although, make no mistake, the Round Lake boys basketball team is certainly enjoying its newfound success this season.
"This is about the school. We needed to do this for the school," Round Lake forward Hakim Williams said. "This is big for our school, it's really good for our school."
What's good is Round Lake's rise from a winless cellar dweller in the Northern Lake County Conference as recently as two years ago, to a potential conference champion.
It's been 25 years since Round Lake, often an underdog in many of the major boys sports, has won a conference title in boys basketball.
On Thursday with a 68-43 beatdown of host Wauconda in front of a packed gym that was about half Round Lake fans, the Panthers got one step closer to some significant history, and moved even deeper into the hearts of their ever-growing faithful legion of followers.
With the win, Round Lake hit the 20-win mark (20-9) and spoiled the party for Wauconda, which would have won the Northern Lake County Conference title outright with a win. Now, Round Lake can sneak in and win the title outright by defeating North Chicago in its final conference game.
"This is the way our games are now," Williams said of the big crowd of fans. "Walking around our school, everyone is wearing our merch (boys basketball merchandise). This has been so great for everyone at our school and we just really want to bring home a conference championship for our school. It's been so long since that's happened."
Williams did his part in keeping that a possibility for Round Lake.
He poured in a game-high 25 points, and was a thorn in Wauconda's side with his aggressive play in the paint. Williams got offensive rebounds, attacked the rim and then also was able to step out and hit some 3-pointers.
Williams, who scored his 1,000th career point in the game, had two of Round Lake's 10 three-pointers, which was on the high side for the Panthers, who average around six 3-pointers a game.
"He is very tough," Wauconda forward Donovan Carter said of Williams. "He's a heck of an athlete out there. I know him pretty well and I have huge respect for him. He's a great player and he was a handful for us today."
Carter was also a handful. He had a team-high 22 points, but no one else managed to score more than 7 points for Wauconda, which fell took a 12-point deficit into the halftime locker room, and then fell behind by as many as 26 points in the second half.
"They played us really hard and we had a hard time getting through the pressure," said Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager, whose team falls to 19-7 overall and 10-3 in the league. "The kids battled, just shots didn't fall tonight." Round Lake also got 9 points apiece out of Nick Pierre, Jamirh Jones and Keonne Peterson. Jones and Peterson each had three 3-pointers.
"The kids know about the history of the school and they really care about it. I wasn't sure they would, because they're kids, but they do," Round Lake coach Jay Iden said. "There's a buzz around the school and the school needed this. The town needed this."