Libertyville holding its own against tough schedule

  • Libertyville's Rachel Rule drives into Lake Zurich's Molly Friesen in a girls basketball game in Lake Zurich earlier this month.

      Libertyville's Rachel Rule drives into Lake Zurich's Molly Friesen in a girls basketball game in Lake Zurich earlier this month. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke stretches for a loose ball in front of Wheeling's Morgan Collar in a game in 2020.

      Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke stretches for a loose ball in front of Wheeling's Morgan Collar in a game in 2020. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/15/2021 8:06 PM

The Libertyville girls basketball team was off to a 3-1 North Suburban Conference start through midweek (7-5 overall).

The Wildcats scored recent road wins over Lake Zurich and Lake Park, a pair of teams ranked in the Daily Herald Top 20 earlier in the season.


Coach Greg Pedersen noted Emily Fisher and Libby Ryan are two players who have stepped it up of late.

"Emily and Libby are tearing it up," he said. "Emily faces double and triple teams every night and still shines. Her defensive energy is excellent this year. Her passing is sharp and she finds open teammates. And, of course, she scores. Libby gives us many factors that help us win. She shoots it well and handles the ball with composure. There's nothing flashy -- just getting the job done offensively and defensively on a consistent basis."

Fisher had a triple-double with 19, points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Lake Park. Also notable was Kate Rule's effort in a close game against state-ranked Benet Academy. Rule had 10 points in that game, and Pedersen noted she was at 93 percent from the foul line earlier in the month.

Rachel Rule added 8 points in the Lake Park game and was shooting 57% from the floor earlier this month.

The Wildcats open play in their own holiday tournament on Friday against Vernon Hills.

Grayslake North update:

Heading into the holidays, the Grayslake North girls basketball team has seen several notable individual performances.

Scoring standout Peyton Gerdes is averaging just under 20 points a game for coach Roger Lass' squad. Lass noted Gerdes has scored more than 30 points in a game twice this season already. She's also averaging 12.6 rebounds.

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Also opening eyes for the Knights thus far is Reagan Kyzynowski, who is averaging 5.7 points and has already increased her career scoring high four times this season, including a strong 14-point effort against Lakes.

Round Lake update:

Lilli Burton, Amari Cole and Taylor Major -- three reasons why the Panthers, under the direction of Molly Hennig, were 8-2 through their first 10 games.

Burton was leading the team in scoring at 13 points per game through midweek, while Cole was at 12 points a game and Major was right there as well at 10.5 points.

Hennig said the goal heading into the holidays -- more of the same.

"I would like to see my team continue to play hard on both ends of the floor and execute our game plans," she said. "The team is truly enjoying playing together, which is showing with how well they are sharing the ball and causing turnovers defensively."


Wauconda update:

The Bulldogs were 6-2 through midweek thanks to the continued strong play of Mackenzie Arden, Jessie Pakaski and Kenna Wisniewski, the team's three leading scorers.

"We are a young team and have been working hard on the basics and offensive execution," Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said. "I would like to see things come together and some young ones step up and become more reliable both offensively and defensively."

In the Bulldogs' recent win against North Chicago, Pakaski had 12 points, while Kenna Wisniewski had 9 points. Emma Wisniewski also had 9 points and 6 rebounds, while Grace Parker had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals.

Mundelein update:

The Mustangs have been getting a steady dose of North Suburban Conference action.

In a recent 59-31 win over Waukegan, Madison Werner led the way with 19 points, while Rylan Foster had 14 points and also pulled in 12 rebounds. Allison Binz added 8 points, while Diana Nanos had 7 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.

In a loss to Lake Zurich, Foster had 12 points and hit 2 3-pointers, while Werner added 9 points.

Against Stevenson, Werner had 9 points on 3 3-pointers. Foster had 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

Vernon Hills update:

The Cougars are off to a 3-1 start in Central Suburban North action.

Offensively, Vernon Hills has been powered by Alexa Cieslinski and Grace Koepke, both averaging around 12.5 points per contest.

Coach Paul Brettner said the team has been hard at work on the defensive front. "I would like to see our defense improve both individually and as a group," he noted.

Brettner added he's looking for growth in the reduction of offensive turnovers.

"Our turnovers are high, so we will hopefully grow in this area, especially our decision-making," he said.

Brettner added rolling into the Libertyville Winter Classic over the holidays will be a good progress barometer. "We will use this tournament to find more ways for us to score," he said. "Many of our players will get opportunities, so I am looking forward to seeing them make the most of the opportunity."

Tourney talk:

Stevenson has earned the top seed at the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic, while Barrington is No. 2.

"Oh my goodness, this is so much fun," said Fillies senior Laura Mahlum about getting to play in a holiday tourney again. "The D-C tourney is really a good tournament for us. We play a lot of very good competition. And I think our team really bonds in that tourney with the bus rides four straight days and everything."

During the past volleyball season, Mahlum committed to Illinois Wesleyan to play basketball. Her volleyball team took third place in the Class 4A state tourney. Basketball teammate Gwen Adler was also the setter on that Fillies' state volleyball team.

"I actually roomed with Gwen when we were downstate for volleyball and we talked about playing basketball and doing it again (getting down state in basketball)," Mahlum said. "Our team has a lot of potential. I'm excited to see where it goes."

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