Zion-Benton ends Round Lake's memorabale season
Years from now, the members of the 2019-2020 Round Lake boys basketball team will look back on this historic season and realize the legacy they have left for future programs. What happened Tuesday night at the Class 4A Warren regional didn't diminish what was accomplished this season by the Panthers.
Fifth-seeded Zion-Benton, behind a pair of game-high 27-point performances from Damontae Taylor and Amar Augillard, ended the historic season by No. 12 seed Round Lake, 68-57.
"This was a dream come true," said Round Lake coach Jay Iden. "Who gets to take over a program where everyone told me that if I take that job it would kill my career. They told me you cannot win with Round Lake kids.
"It's a testament to unwavering belief and ridiculous hard work."
Round Lake, which finished the season at 21-10, tying the school record for wins in a season, battled back time and time again, but in the end, it was too much of the 1-2 combination of Taylor and Augillard.
"It's good to have a 1-2 punch," Zion-Benton coach Bobby Worthington said. "Who is the 1? Who is the 2? I don't know. But it is a nice problem to have."
Zion-Benton (20-10) advances on to the Warren regional final Friday night where it will face fourth-seeded Libertyville, a 46-43 winner over Warren.
"We just played (Libertyville) and we know them very well and they know us very well," Worthington said. "It should be a great matchup."
Zion used two big runs in the third and fourth quarters to pull away from the Panthers.
A 9-3 run to end the third and start the fourth opened the margin to 47-33, its biggest to that point. Augillard was virtually impossible to stop during that stretch. His 10 points in the third quarter came in a variety of ways.
First it was a long 3-pointer, then a thunderous dunk that extended the margin to 14.
"Last year we lost in the first round and we really used that as motivation," said the junior who just picked up a Division-I offer from Wisconsin-Green Bay this past week.
"First we are trying to win regionals and take it one game at a time from there."
Round Lake kept chipping away but couldn't get the deficit under 9 points in the second half. Foul trouble plagued Hakeem Williams as he sat for most of the first half with three and eventually fouled out, finishing with 14 points.
"(Hakeem) was a great teammate on the bench and that is why he is a captain," Iden said. "But our guys stepped up and we never gave up hope at all. You could feel it looking into the stands tonight that we had a run coming."
But the run didn't come. Every time Round Lake got the margin under 10, Zion, and especially Augillard, had an answer.
One of the Panthers' top scorers, Deveauntay McNeal was held to just 8 points on the night. Teammate Elyjia Jones picked up the slack scoring 13 points, 11 in the first half.