Mundelein pulls away from Round Lake
This was the kind of game that fans would have loved, and the kind of game that deserved fans.
Two of the best boys basketball teams in Lake County met up in a quiet, middle school gym on Friday night in Round Lake.
If there weren't a pandemic going on, Mundelein and Round Lake, teams that won nearly 60 combined games last year and returned a vast majority of their best players, would have been playing in front of a packed house in Round Lake's main gym.
But COVID-19 kept all fans out of the gym and the gym was at Magee Middle School in Round Lake since Round Lake High School is being used as a vaccination facility by the Lake County Health Department.
Still, both teams brought energy and showcased some of their best assets before Mundelein pulled away for a 70-48 nonconference victory.
The Mustangs improve to 6-1 on the season with their only loss coming to Lake Forest. Round Lake drops to 2-2.
"It was fun. Round Lake has a lot of athletic kids and size and they do a lot of good things with that," said Mundelein coach Matt Badgley, whose team won 30 games last season and returned all five starters. "And we have a group of kids that kind of excels for the crowd. These is a group of kids that people should be able to watch. This is a game that fans should have been able to watch."
Mundelein, which boasts multiple Division I players led by point guard Conor Enright and 6-foot-9 big man Scottie Ebube, is ranked fourth in the Class 4A state poll. The Mustangs were about to play for a sectional championship last season when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shut down the basketball season.
Round Lake had similar success last season, winning a school-record 29 games and a conference championship after years of struggle.
The Panthers are trying to follow in the footsteps of Mundelein, which had some dire seasons of single-digit victory totals as recently as four years ago.
"It's always fun playing teams like them even though we were the underdogs coming in. I like playing competition like that," Round Lake guard Hakim Williams said. "We want to play with the best of the best because we think we belong. We've been trying the last two years to get to where (Mundelein) is at. We've put in a lot of hard work. And it will pay off someday."
Mundelein always had a lead, but Round Lake never kept pushing and challenging with its speed and athleticism.
The Mustangs' depth and versatility was the difference as four players scored in double-figures.
Enright led the way with 21 points, Trey Baker and Ebube had 14 points apiece and Jack Bikus had 13 points.
"Round Lake is a really good team. We won by 22, but it never really felt like we were up by that much because they are so competitive and fast," Enright said. "With fans, it would have been a lot better. But we'll take what we can get."
Williams topped Round Lake with 19 points. Nick Pierre and Isaiah Nixon added 11 and 10 points respectively.
"The way we played tonight is the team we are and we belonged out there (with Mundelein)," Round Lake coach Jay Iden said. "That's why I'm so glad coach Badgley and I made this game happen. We did a lot of great things."