Lake Forest pulls away from Lake Zurich

By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/7/2022 10:03 PM

Only trailing 26-24 early in the third quarter, host Lake Zurich had high hopes in its North Suburban Conference boys basketball game against Lake Forest Friday night.

But the hot-shooting Scouts would build a commanding 42-29 advantage over the Bears heading into the fourth quarter.


Three 3-pointers by Lake Forest junior Asa Thomas in the final period put Lake Zurich (6-9, 1-3) away as Lake Forest (10-4, 4-0) pulled away for a 56-39 victory.

The highly-recruited Thomas (game-high 17 points) hit his fifth 3-pointer of the contest for a 51-33 lead with 5:51 to play as the Bears were outscored 18-8 in the third quarter, and 14-10 in the fourth quarter.

"I thought for three quarters we closed out really well on (Thomas), but in the fourth quarter we kind of lost him a few of times so give them a lot of credit for that," said Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin, whose team is at Willowbrook Saturday as a part of the LZ MLK tournament.

"I think we're getting better. I think our kids played really hard. And our next challenge is 32 minutes of execution."

The Scouts jumped all over Lake Zurich in the opening quarter by taking a 17-4 advantage before the Bears bounced back in the second quarter to cut the lead to 24-21 on Jack Kondrad's 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

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Two free throws by Lake Zurich junior Brendan Powers (team-high 13 points) cut the lead to 26-24 early in the third quarter. But a 9-point run by Lake Forest helped lead to a 15-point cushion before a dunk off a turnover by Lake Zurich's Brady Sykes cut the lead to 13 points late in the period.

"We were a lot more disciplined in the second half defensively, and they always shoot well here," said Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala, who said Thomas has numerous Big Ten Conference scholarship offers already.

"We've got some guys who can shoot so that helps, and everything they got they earned in the second half."

Lake Zurich senior Nick Pezzella scored 7 of his 12 points in the first half while Lake Forest teammates Tommie Aberle and Alex Forowycz scored 12 points apiece. Sykes wound up with 7 points while sophomore teammate Jonathan Fleaka chipped in 5 points. Nine different players hit 3-pointers in the contest.

"They hit shots in the second half and tightened up against us defensively," added Coughlin. "I think there's games where we execute for 25 to 28 minutes. But there's a three to five minute stretch where we let up, and if we can get that 32 minutes of execution I think we'll see some really good things happen for us."

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