Lake Zurich fights, but falls to Rockford Boylan
PEKIN -- Terry Coughlin can see the improvement.
The Lake Zurich boys basketball coach believes it is only a matter of time before his Bears begin seeing their hard luck change.
Coughlin's club very nearly saw just that happen in the first of two Tuesday games for Lake Zurich at the 56th Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.
The Bears led state-ranked Rockford Boylan for two-thirds of a 63-55 setback at historic Dawdy Hawkins Gym before the Titans closed the third quarter with a 14-4 game-changing run.
Lake Zurich (5-7) got as close as 4 points with 2:56 remaining on a steal and layup by Nick Pezzella. However, on the following possession, another driving Pezzella attempt hit iron, and a putback try by fellow senior captain Brady Sykes also missed the mark.
"From there, we were in chase mode," Coughlin said.
The loss was another chapter in the heartbreaking tale of LZ's season so far.
The Bears have two losses to state-ranked New Trier and another to powerhouse Loyola. Lake Zurich also fell on a last-second shot, and three losses are by a combined 12 points.
"At some point, we have to win these games," Coughlin said. "But the important point is we're getting there. This is part of the journey of the season. When we get back home in the conference season, we should feel good and ready to go."
Lake Zurich played Pattonville (Mo.) late Tuesday night. The winner of that game plays Class 4A state-ranked Moline (9-3) for fifth place Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. The loser settles for the seventh-place contest at 11 a.m. opposite 3A-ranked Springfield Lanphier.
"The kids battled really hard against another state-ranked opponent," Coughlin said after the Boylan setback. "I'm proud of them. This was exactly the kind of effort we wanted coming down here.
"We come here to play great teams and we got to play another great one. I think we've proved we can play with just about anybody. Now, we need to keep getting better and take that next step to consistently knock off those good teams."
Part of that next step, the coach said, is finding a way to stop Boylan's 26-12 dominance in the third quarter.
The Bears led 13-10 after one quarter and 27-22 at halftime. Boylan pulled into ties three times in the third quarter (at 29, 32 and 34). LZ's last lead was 35-34 with 4:39 showing on a Pezzella free throw.
Pezzella and Brendan Powers shared game highs in scoring (19 points) and rebounding (6 boards). Sykes chipped in 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals for the Bears.
Austin Hocking led three Titans in double-figure scoring with 16 points. Boylan's bench was better than LZ's, though, with nine players scoring.
"Some guys who haven't played as much had to play," Coughlin said about his team's two games on Tuesday. "We're stressed a little bit from a depth standpoint right now (with three regulars missing). So, it's a good opportunity for some guys to step up and play."