The second half of the basketball season is kicking into high gear, and for the boys and girls teams, how they play down the stretch over the next five-plus weeks will go a long way toward determining where they finish in conference standings.
Girls basketball coach Chris Bennett was hoping to gain some ground in three straight contests against conference foes, as the Bears played Warren on Jan. 10, Libertyville on Jan. 12 and Mundelein on Saturday. Unfortunately, Saturday’s win against the Mustangs was the Bears' lone victory after losses to the Blue Devils and the Wildcats.
The Bears were blown out by Warren 42-26, shooting just 10-for-43 from the field. Stephanie Schmid led her team with 10 points, and Cathryne Spear had 7. Dori Darras had six rebounds.
“They played us tough in a two-three zone,” said Bennett, “and we struggled to find open shots.”
On Thursday, the Bears put together a stronger offensive showing in a 43-38 loss to Libertyville. Lake Zurich was up 23-19 at halftime but down 27-26 going into the fourth period. They were outscored 16-12 in the final quarter.
Schmid was her team’s point leader with 16, and Katherine Anderson and Spear each had 8. Darras had eight rebounds and four assists.
The Bears fared better during a matinee matchup on Saturday against Mundelein, which they won 58-46. Baskets by Anderson, Spear and Cox to start the game gave Lake Zurich a 6-0 lead, and the team never looked back.
Spear went 2-for-2 from the free throw line later in the quarter, Renee Wojcik hit a layup and Schmid followed with one under the basket as the Bears took a 14-4 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Lake Zurich continued their offensive onslaught until the middle of the second quarter. After the Mustangs’ Becca Woit sank a layup to open the period, Lake Zurich went on a 9-0 run, including a coast-to-coast layup by Darras and a 3-pointer by Schmid from the far right baseline.
Mundelein tightened up the Bears’ lead by the half, but the Bears still took a commanding 26-13 bulge into the break.
Lake Zurich kept pace with their first-half scoring in the third quarter before coming down to earth in the fourth. One highlight in the third was a slick backward layup by Darras early in the period. The Bears then took a commanding 45-26 lead into the final quarter.
“They did a nice job handling the ball today,” Bennett said after the game. “I definitely saw some good things today. The team did a much better job rebounding and hustling for loose balls than they did during our two losses this week.”
Lake Zurich definitely took the pedal off the metal in the fourth, however. They were outscored 20-13, 20-10 over the last five-plus minutes of the quarter. Taylor Davis led the Mustangs’ scoring jag with 9 points, including a 3-pointer baseline jumper from the left corner, and Woit added 7 points, including going 3-for-3 at the line.
Darras and Spear were Lake Zurich’s top scorers with 13 points apiece. Schmid chipped in with 11 and Maisie Cox had 7. Darras led her team with seven rebounds, and Mallory Parsons had five.
“Mallory gave us really solid minutes off the bench in the post,” said Bennett. “She’s working her way into the lineup by fulfilling a role we need her to play.”
Bears Pause: The Bears are now 13-8 on the season, and 5-4 in conference play. They still have several important conference games remaining on their schedule, including Saturday’s road game against Zion-Benton, an away game against Stevenson on Jan. 31, and a home game versus Lake Forest on Feb. 3.
Next Up: Lake Zurich plays Zion-Benton at 2:30 Saturday, followed by a
road game in Winnetka against New Trier at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23. The Bears then host Maine West at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.
The Bears boys basketball team lost 58-53 to Lake Forest on Jan. 13 in a close contest. The team was up 18-14 after the first half and 35-31 at the half. In fact, they led for virtually the entire game, but weren’t able to close out the Scouts during the final two minutes.
“(We) led the whole game (and) played well for 30 minutes, but mentally we just fell asleep the last two minutes on both ends,” said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher.
Holding a small lead, the Bears were up 44-40 after the third quarter. They continued to maintain their advantage into the waning minutes of the fourth, and were on top 50-48 with two minutes to play. But Thomas Durrett, the Scouts’ best shooter, delivered five unanswered points to give Lake Forest the lead.
Mirko Grcic responded with a 3-pointer to knot the score at 52, but a driving layup by senior guard John Hayes gave the Scouts a 54-52 advantage. Lake Forest then made 3 of 4 free throws to seal the win.
Grcic led the Bears with 23 points; he also had 10 rebounds. Jeff O’Brien added 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and freshman Mike Travlos continued to impress with 9 points coming off the bench, including a 3-pointer while going 6-for-6 from the line.
Bears Pause: The Bears’ downfall was their shooting percentage during the fourth quarter. After going 14-for-28 (50 percent) during the first three periods, they slumped to 2-for-12 (17 percent) in the fourth. Lake Zurich is now 11-9, 2-4 in conference play.
Next Up: Lake Zurich will play three consecutive conference foes starting with a home game against Warren at 7:30 p.m. Friday. They then travel to Mundelein to play the conference rival Mustangs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, and host Libertyville at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27.