Lake Zurich's 25-0 run does in Maine West

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/23/2022 7:03 PM

As far as successful timeouts go, this one was a doozy.

Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin called for the stoppage of play with 2:47 left in the second quarter Saturday against Maine West, just after the Warriors had scored 8 straight to take a 27-21 lead.

 

And whatever was talked about in that spot-on huddle, to say the least, it worked.

The Bears proceeded -- in a span of under 6 minutes -- to score 25 consecutive points en route to a 69-47 win at the Maine West boys basketball Thanksgiving tournament.

"It wasn't anything that I did or said, it was all them," said Coughlin of his team. "They're the ones who did it."

"We are so inexperienced, it's just about reminding these guys that as a young team, you need the confidence that you can do it. They kind of needed to get back to their personality, who they are, and I just gave them a gentle reminder. Every once in awhile, everyone needs that reassurance that it's going to be OK."

Bears senior guard Brendan Powers, who scored the first 10 points of the run, said it was all about intensity.

"Coach talked about our energy," said Powers, "and that's one thing that we want to focus on. I was able to come out and get a backdoor cut, and that got us going."

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The Warriors played solid basketball for most of the first half until the wheels came off just before intermission.

"We were passing the ball well, and our energy was good," said Maine West junior guard Tre Himes, who scored 6 points. "But in the last two minutes (of the second quarter) it just collapsed."

It was two straight 3-pointers from Warriors senior guard Liam McConkey, who paced his team with 15 points on five 3s, that led West to the 27-21 advantage.

Then after the timeout the Bears, led by Powers, scored the next 15 to take a 36-27 lead at halftime.

Lake Zurich continued the barrage in the third quarter. First Powers scored in the paint, then fed junior teammate Nick Popovic (17 points) for a layup.

Powers scored again, Popovic had a steal and basket moments later, then a 12-footer from Popovic put the Bears up 46-27 with just 2 minutes and 53 seconds gone by in the third.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

McConkey stopped the deluge with a 3, but Maine West couldn't recover.

"Whatever style of ball you play, you're usually giving up something," said Coughlin. "They (Maine West) were playing the passing lanes and decided to pressure the basketball.

"To our kids credit, they did a really great job of back cutting, making ball fakes and being strong with the basketball. Our back cuts really opened things up. We were able to get a bunch of layups and we made them."

Maine West scored 8 straight points in the fourth quarter to creep within 59-41, but that's as close as the home team could get.

Lake Zurich junior Jonathan Fleaka scored 3 of his 6 points in the final stanza, while senior Tyler Obsuszt came off the bench to get two steals and a couple of rebounds. Kieran Cawley and Jared Kamin added buckets as well.

The Bears excelled on the boards, outrebounding Maine West 32-19, with Powers leading the way on the glass with 10 rebounds.

Lake Zurich 6-6 sophomore center Anton Strelnikov, ranked as one of the top sophs in Illinois, scored 14 points.

"And it was only his second varsity game," said Coughlin. "The sky's the limit for Anton."

Senior guard Matt Weinert pitched in with 9 points for Maine West.

"Just got to go and have a hard practice on Friday," added Himes of the next step for the Warriors, "and get prepared for Saturday's game against Hoffman."

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