Ellingson, Libertyville battle but fall to Lake Forest
Blake Ellingson never lost his confidence.
The Libertyville forward emphasized the matter twice in the third quarter against Lake Forest.
After watching his first shot blocked, Ellingson stayed focused enough to get the loose ball and force contact at the rim to be awarded foul shots.
He scored 13 of the Wildcats' 15 points in the quarter.
"In the first half, I didn't think I did enough for the team," he said. "In the second half I made it a mission of mine to help us out and get some points on the board."
His second half performance epitomized a toughness and resolve before the Wildcats lost 64-49 against the Scouts in North Suburban Conference boys basketball play in Lake Forest Saturday.
Lake Forest (6-1, 4-0) threatened to run the Wildcats out of the gym during a nearly flawless first quarter. The Scouts hit 9 of 10 shots and all five of their 3-point attempts in racing out to a 25-5 lead.
Lake Forest star Asa Thomas scored 11 straight points during the first quarter blitz. He finished with 13 points.
Forward Walter Mattingly scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half. Guard Jack Mallory scored 13 points, with 11 coming in the first half.
"They were on fire, and they executed very well in the first quarter," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "Our guys, the main focus, was not to quit, and I thought in the second half we were a completely different basketball team."
Reserve guards Tyler Brne and Jack Huber engineered a solid showing in the second quarter that provided the necessary equilibrium.
"I was very proud of that group in the second quarter," Zyrkowski said. "They kind of lit the spark when our starters returned."
Ellingson scored 15 of his game-high 16 points in the second half. He scored 9 consecutive Libertyville points during one exceptional third quarter stretch.
Forward Chase Bonder contributed 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Their play mitigated the tough start that saw Lake Forest build a 40-18 halftime lead.
"Our coaches' main emphasis after halftime was not to give up and keep going after them," Ellingson said. "We kept fighting and fighting."
Guard Marc Michelotti chipped in with 5 points and forward Nik Raic added 4 points and 5 rebounds for the Wildcats (2-5, 1-2).
The start against Lake Forest mirrored the sluggish beginning the night before against Mundelein.
The hole was simply too deep.
"I think these last few games the biggest problem has been ourselves," Bonder said. "Our coaches always says we are our biggest enemy. That has really shown with these slow starts."
The bright spot was the second half performance. Libertyville could have wilted, especially given the background of this very unusual season.
"What was important was the fight and competing and learning when you are down, what you have to do to get back up," Zyrkowski said.
"I think what our guys learned today was we can bet back up and not quit."