Buchert's return helps Libertyville get past Lake Zurich
On a cold night, Libertyville found the warmth that it needed at the right time.
The Wildcats overcame a cool shooting night and escaped with a 40-30 win over host Lake Zurich Tuesday.
With the win, Libertyville (20-4, 9-1) remained tied for the lead in the North Suburban Confhec with Stevenson. The Patriots (18-4, 9-1) held off Lake Forest 45-43.
Libertyville, which was playing without Aidyn Boone, had its own worries against Lake Zurich's 1-2-2 defense. The Wildcats shot just 26 percent (10-of-38) through the first three quarters and led 28-22.
Will Buchert, who was playing for the first time in the last two weeks after injuring his ankle in practice, heated up his team in the final quarter. Buchert knocked down 3-of-4 shots in the quarter, along with a pair of free throws, to help his team pull away.
"I really needed to get my wind under me," said Buchert, who played sparingly in the first half and then played the entire second half to finish with 14 points.
"I really haven't got up and down the court a ton. But in the second half I had my feet under me and settled in and made some plays."
Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski was happy his team found a way to win.
"I thought they did a good job of pushing us out of what we wanted to do," Zyrkowski said. "Any win in the NSC is a good win, especially on Tuesday night."
Zyrkowski credited the play of Buchert and Henry Eads, who had all 11 of his points in the first half, to sparking his team's offense.
"Will came back and we got him limited minutes and he had a big second half for us," Zyrkowski said. "Henry Eads had a big first half and kind of led the charge."
It was a slow first half for both teams as Libertyville led 21-16 at the half thanks to the spark that Eads provided.
"I think my teammates do a real good job of finding the open man," Eads said. "I was open and I was hitting. I think getting the confidence to fill in that role when we have guys hurt is something my teammates give me."
Lake Zurich (13-10, 4-6) had some difficulty attacking Libertyville at times. But the Bears got things together to begin the second half and tied the game at 21-21 on a basket by Ryan Carrol.
Libertyville then grabbed the lead for good thanks to a three-pointer by Jack Huber (6 points) and a putback by Cole Bonder (6 points, 11 rebounds).
Lake Zurich pulled to 28-25 with 5:48 to play. Buchert ended that threat with a basket and a three-pointer to put the game away.
"I think our best is very good," Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin said. "We just have to find that consistency in every game. I am proud of our guys and we will continue to work to get better."
Nick Popovic led the Bears with nine points, Brendan Powers had eight points and Anton Strelnikov added six points and four blocked shots.