Wauconda wins wild 52-51 game over Round Lake
They feted former Round Lake varsity girls basketball coach Gary Edge (324 career wins) before the start of Friday night's Wauconda-Round Lake game.
He'll be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame next year.
Humble and gracious, Edge -- now the JV 2 assistant girls hoops coach at the school -- thanked the packed audience, including several of his former Panthers.
"And thank you, Wauconda, for your patience tonight," Edge, microphone in hand, added after turning to the Bulldogs' bench about seven minutes past the scheduled tip-off time.
Wauconda freshman forward Kelsey Piehl then exhibited that trait on the floor, waiting until the third quarter to score her first 2 points in the Bulldogs' 52-51 victory in a Northern Lake County Conference opener for both squads.
The 6-foot-1 Bulldog tallied 10 more after the break, including 8 in her club's 13-point fourth quarter. Her back-to-back buckets -- the second on a putback -- gave the visitors a 52-48 lead at the 1:11 mark of the final quarter.
Nobody blocked a bigger shot than Piehl did, her swat coming with 29 seconds left and Wauconda up 52-49.
Round Lake (3-3, 0-1 in the NLCC) got a free throw from senior guard Allison Dittmer (11 points) with 57 ticks left. Dittmer stole a pass under Wauconda's basket 52 seconds later and went right up for a layup to narrow the advantage to 52-51.
Wauconda (4-1, 1-0) hung on from there.
"Kind of crazy," admitted Piehl, who committed 2 fouls in the first frame. "First quarter, I was scared. Third quarter, my confidence started to go up.
"But the best part of tonight was our teamwork."
Wauconda junior forward Helen Macey -- owner of averages of 26 points and 12 rebounds after four games -- had another impactful night, pouring in 11 of the Bulldogs' 24 points in the first half and finishing with game highs of 18 points and 8 boards.
Sophomore teammate Grace Parker, a 5-9 guard, struck for all 11 of her points in the middle quarters. She hit all 3 freebies after getting fouled on a trey attempt at 6:16 of the third quarter; the swishes put Wauconda up 31-28 -- one of the biggest leads of the night.
"These Wauconda-Round Lake matchups are always good, close games," said relieved -- and spent -- Bulldogs coach Jaime Dennis. "Round Lake always plays hard. This is such a tough environment, such a loud environment.
"We'd been playing in quiet gyms before tonight."
Four of Round Lake's five scorers reached doubles figures, paced by senior forward Aniyah Moody's 15. Senior guard Lilli Burton netted 13, and junior sharpshooter Judith Cerroblanco (2 3-pointers) matched Dittmer's 11-point effort.
Cerroblanco's second 3-pointer knotted the game at 48 with 2:05 left in the contest.
"These games are always fun and competitive," said Round Lake coach Molly Hennig, whose Panthers trailed 26-25 at intermission and 39-38 after three quarters. "Jaime's teams are well-coached every year.
"We missed some shots there at the end; foul trouble hurt us, too. But I was encouraged by the play of (Dittmer and Cerroblanco)."