Lake Zurich continues to say 'Why not us'?
A second chance.
Lake Zurich has been living on one since the Class 4A playoffs began.
The Bears continued to use that extra opportunity Tuesday when they stunned second-seeded Fremd 42-33 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Warren girls basketball sectional in Gurnee.
"We just play a brutal schedule waiting for these games," said Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennet, whose team outrebounded Fremd 28-11.
"This is one of those years that we are prepared. We had a heck of a defensive effort. We have some height and we used it. We harp on rebounding."
Lake Zurich (20-11), which is seeded sixth, will meet top-seeded Stevenson (32-2) in Thursday's sectional final at 7 p.m. Stevenson beat Libertyville 42-30 in the other semifinal.
Lake Zurich began its second chance opportunities when the Bears knocked off third-seeded Hersey in the regional final last week.
The Bears used that momentum to jump all over Fremd (27-7). Behind Baylee Parks, Lake Zurich scooted out to an 11-4 lead with Parks scoring seven of those points.
"We don't want to go yet," said Parks, who finished with 14 points. "We want to go as far as we can. We are just really excited and why not us?"
Fremd used its quickness and trapping ability to chip away at the lead. The Vikings were able to run off 9 unanswered points and took a 13-11 lead on a pair of free throws by Ella Todd.
The game was tied twice after that before Parks would can 3 free throws just before the half as the Bears led 18-17.
Todd had just hit a 3-pointer to cut the Bears' lead to 23-22 when Lake Zurich continued to use those second-chance opportunities on the offensive end. And they began to pay huge dividends for the Bears.
Lake Zurich was sparked by Avery Cooper's two baskets thanks to those offensive rebounds. That play enabled Lake Zurich to close out the third quarter on an 8-0 run and take a 31-22 lead.
"I did real well inside," said Cooper, who is a freshman and had 7 points and 9 rebounds.
"I thought we boxed out real well as a team. And our help-side rebounding and defense was great. This team works real well together."
Fremd was able to pressure Lake Zurich during the final quarter to get the lead within five points. The final time came with 1:37 to play on a 3 by the Vikings' Anna Schmidt to make it 36-31. But the Bears converted 6-of-8 free throws to advance to play Stevenson for the third time this season.
Brooke Wahlund had 7 points and 5 rebounds for Lake Zurich while Anna Gilbertson had 6 points. Brianna Wooldridge had 5 points for Fremd.
"We told our kids this game would come down to who offensive rebounded better," Fremd coach Dave Yates said, "I am super proud of them. We are a young team. We started out the year shaky. The growth that they have shown throughout the year is something we are very proud of."