Libertyville can't slow down Lake Forest
Lake Forest's quest to win the North Suburban Conference regular season boys basketball title took a big step forward on Tuesday night.
After winning six of their seven conference games in the shortened 2021 season, the Scouts are in the midst of their best season since finishing second in the conference with a total of 27 wins in 2014-15. The Scouts haven't won the conference title since 2008-09, but gained a major foothold in the conference with an impressive 51-46 win over Libertyville in Lake Forest.
The Scouts' collective effort was evident in the final scoring tally, with sophomore guard Tommie Aberle and junior sensation Asa Thomas both scoring 14 points. Alex Forowycz scored 9 points and Sam Gibson added 10 points to spark the Scouts (18-6, 9-1) to the season sweep over the Wildcats (20-7, 8-2).
In a matchup between teams with just one loss in conference play, the Scouts made every possession count and never allowed the Wildcats to mount an extended run nor get any flow on offense and limited their second-chance points.
"I thought we did a great job tonight on defense," Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said. "Libertyville is really hard to guard, and they have a great inside and outside attack. We are undersized, but the whole key to the game was limiting them to one shot and out. We did a great job of it."
Libertyville was hampered by sluggish play at key points, scoring 7 points in the second quarter and 8 in the third. Chase Bonder led the Wildcats with 17 points and 9 rebounds, and Jack Huber poured in 12 points.
"Lake Forest is a good basketball team, but so are we," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "It was two teams going at and the atmosphere and the crowd was great. Lake Forest just did enough tonight. They executed really well, especially in that second quarter."
Thomas, who has numerous Power Five Conference offers, was the marquee player but the Scouts unfurled several runs by getting vital plays from numerous unsung players.
"Our coaches did a great job of preparing us in practices and our teammates pushed us to get ready for their starters," Thomas said. "We were able to execute. This is a great win for us."
The Wildcats had their five-game winning streak snapped due to not being able to find any momentum on the offensive end or forcing enough turnovers.
Trailing 6-5 early in the first quarter, the Scouts broke open the game with a 7-0 run that was sparked by 5 points from Forowycz. The Scouts closed out the first half with an 8-0 run, with Thomas scoring 5 points, to seize a 30-21 lead.
The Scouts padded to their leads thanks to some hot shooting and the Wildcats hurt themselves by extending possessions and missing shots. Gibson scored 4 points in a row to push the lead to 34-23, while Thomas hit a long-range 3-pointer and Aberle added 2 free throws for the lead to balloon to 41-29 early in the fourth.