Libertyville dumps Conant for tourney title

By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/23/2021 9:20 PM

There's a gift for the holidays as sophomore twin sisters have set the rules for Libertyville's girls basketball team.

Rachel Rule scored a game-high 15 points, while her sister Kate added 7 and Maryland-recruit Emily Fisher chipped in with 12 as Libertyville defeated visiting Conant 45-28 in the championship game of the Libertyville girls holiday tournament on Thursday night.


"Honestly, we were really excited to play, and it was the championship of the tournament," Rachel Rule said. "We just really wanted to win. We just came out with a lot of energy. It's just playing together, we all attack the basket, and we play as a team. We just get excited for each other. It makes us look a lot better."

Libertyville (13-5) won all of its games through the first three games of the pool play.

"We knew that Conant had a lot of talented players, and they're very well-coached," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said. "You look at your team in the eyes and tell them, if you leave them open then they can hit 3s. If you're not careful they will back cut you. But you have to go on the floor and experience it and (Conant) punched us in the mouth in the first two minutes. It was a challenge for our team to regroup and refocus themselves to dedicate, which we did and got on a really good run."

Libertyville had a slight edge in the opening quarter, leading 8-6 until the final minute. That's when Sam Locascio (8 points) hit a 3-pointer followed by a 3 from Aria Mazza (team-high 13 points) that gave the Cougars (7-6) a 12-8 at the end of the quarter.

"It was kind of tough (to shoot), because (Libertyville's) pressure was turned up," Mazza said. "I think the team got some good looks. You just have to move a lot to get open shots. I just kept on cutting and moving quickly."

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The Wildcats put together a 13-4 run in the second quarter and held a 21-16 lead at the break.

Libertyville scored the first 6 points in the third quarter, led by Rachel Rule, and increased the lead to 27-16 with 5:07 left.

Going into the final quarter, Libertyville took a 9-point advantage at 33-24 and outscored the Cougars 12-4 the rest of the way.

"It's kind of been a problem all year," Conant coach Todd Strauch said. "We did a better job in the first half. I don't think that (Libertyville) turned up the pressure that much in the second half. We just handled it better in the first half. Maybe it was a tired thing. We were playing eight girls instead of playing 10. We just have to do a better job of handling pressure. I thought we made the right plays, we just didn't finish them."

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