Scrappy, hardworking Huber leaves legacy at Libertyville
Everyone has brought up the idea of knee pads.
That they would be a good idea for Lauren Huber.
She knows that they are right.
"I like to see all my bruises," Huber said with a laugh.
Huber, Libertyville's scrappy, floor-diving senior guard, is known for her bruises. To her, they are a badge of honor.
"They are validation that I am putting in the hard work," Huber said. "Oh my gosh, I have so many though, sometimes. It's like my whole knee is black and blue. My dad will say that I really need to wear some knee pads, and I'm always like, 'Nope, that's not happening.'"
What does usually happen with the sweet, friendly, soft-spoken Huber, though, is that once she laces up her basketball shoes and steps on the court, she'll find a way to irritate someone, to annoy someone, to get into that someone's head.
Her scrappy defense, and floor-diving hustle for loose balls, her relentless box-outs for rebounds, all of it is an inspiration to her teammates, a Godsend to her coaches, and a real pain-in-the-you-know-what to opponents.
"It's the scrap plays, the hustle plays. It's the tips and deflections, it's getting on the floor, it's playing really tough defense on your player, it's the little things that usually go unnoticed," Huber said. "Scoring is the main focus for a lot of players, but it never has been for me. If anything, I love to be known for doing the little things that are the things that really make teams good."
Huber, a four-year varsity starter for Libertyville and a driving force behind the Wildcats' three straight North Suburban Conference championships over the last three years, has built her entire career off this reputation of toughness and grittiness, so much so that she will now also be known as one of the best girls basketball players in Lake County history.
Huber, who will be playing Division I basketball next year on full scholarship at Holy Cross near Boston, has been named the captain of the 2021 Daily Herald Lake County Girls Basketball All-Area team.
"The intangibles are off the charts," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said of Huber's skills set. "She is one of the best defenders in the county and plays with tremendous energy. She gets deflections, crowds passing lanes, and picks up offensive rebounds. Hustle points, box outs, close outs, she does it all."
And lest you think that Huber's one weak spot is scoring, well, think again.
Huber led Libertyville, consistently one of the best girls teams in not just the NSC but all of the northern suburbs over the last three years, in scoring this season with 14 points per game, and reached the 1,000-point plateau in her career to become the ninth player in school history to do so. She also averaged 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
She now ranks second all-time at Libertyville in assists and fifth all-time in rebounds.
"Late in close games, we wanted the ball in Lauren's hands," Pedersen said. "She's a finisher and shoots 83 percent from the free-throw line. Without all of the talented players around her, she would have easily averaged 20-plus points per game."
Huber was just fine with not doing that, though.
She says that she's had the most fun being on a team full of talent and balance and winners. The Wildcats' journey started way back in fourth grade when Huber's dad Kevin coached her and some of her teammates on a team called the Libertyville Legends. Then the girls came up through a strong feeder program together.
"I have so many good memories with this team, because we grew up playing together," Huber said of players such as Morgan Spaulding, Marianna Morrissey, Emily Fisher and 2020 graduates Lydia Crow and Margaret Buchert. "We had chemistry. I mean, it's crazy how well we meshed together. We really knew how to play off each other and I think that made us really good.
"My favorite thing about our teams is winning the three North Suburban Conference championships. It's hard to do, especially with how tough our conference was. You had Lake Forest with Halle Douglass (now a freshman playing at Wisconsin), and Stevenson is always really good. Winning conference is a lot of work. To win that plaque for three straight years and see everyone on our team so happy, that was really fun."
Huber had fun freshman year, too, even though she and the Wildcats did not win the conference championship. She says that she had fun finding her role, carving out her niche.
"My freshman year, I was with a lot of really good players, older players, and I knew that if I wanted to try to get into the starting lineup, I needed to do the little things that I knew I could do, like get rebounds and steals and play defense."
Huber says that her dad was always reminding her of the importance of the little things, which is why, to this day, she dives on the floor and chases down every offensive rebound she can with the same gusto and enthusiasm that she did as a bright-eyed fourth grader playing organized basketball for the first time.
"My dad has always told me that about everything in life, that it's the little things, the little things," Huber said. "If you work hard on the little things in life, that will get you to the place you want to be. That really stuck with me, and I think it helped me in the long run with basketball."
*Lauren Huber, Libertyville, G, sr.
Emily Fisher, Libertyville, G, soph.
Simone Sawyer, Stevenson, G, jr.
Tahj Bloom, Grayslake Central, F, fr.
Grace Sullivan, Carmel, C, sr.
* designates team captain
Morgan Spaulding, Libertyville, G, sr.
Jordan Wood, Carmel, G, soph.
Ava Bardic, Stevenson, G, jr.
Ella Karg, Wauconda, G, sr.
Peyton Gerdes, Grayslake North, F, soph.
Lilli Burton, Round Lake, G, soph.; Amari Cole, Round Lake, C, jr.; MK Drevline, Grayslake Central, G, sr.; Piper Gallagher, Grayslake Central, F, jr.; Daniella Jarrell, Vernon Hills, G, sr.; Emory Klatt, Stevenson, F, fr.; Jessie Pakaski, Wauconda, G, jr.; Caroline Sharpe, Warren, G, sr.; Alayna Soukup, Lake Zurich, G, jr.