Lake County girls basketball notes: Fisher, Libertyville riding 10-game winning streak

It has been the Emily Fisher show recently for the Libertyville girls basketball team.

Fisher has played a key role in the Wildcats jumping out to a 12-2 start overall. Libertyville was tied with Lake Zurich at 5-0 atop the North Suburban Conference to start the week.

Recently, the Cats defeated Glenbrook South 58-35 in a non-conference game, downed Waukegan 54-21 in NSC action and defeated Vernon Hills 51-22 in another non-conference game.

"This week was dominated by Emily Fisher," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said.

In those three wins, Fisher averaged 17 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6 assists and had 18 total assists against only 2 turnovers, while shooting 57% from the field. Pedersen emphasized the importance of the 18:2 assist-to-turnover ratio Fisher racked up in the three victories.

"Emily has taken her game to another level," Pedersen said. "She's playing with confidence, and as a point guard she is selfless and makes the right read time after time."

Libertyville had a 10-game winning streak to start the week. In those 10 games, the Cats have not allowed more than 35 points to an opposing team.

In addition to Fisher, Libertyville has received recent strong play from Maddy Kopala and freshman Sophia Swanson.

"Maddy has helped us with her defensive energy and resolve, and Sophia is giving us good minutes off the bench," Pedersen explained.

Libertyville is in the midst of hosting its Libertyville Winter Classic. The final two days take place Thursday and Friday, weather permitting, as Pedersen pointed out, referencing weather conditions that are predicted to quickly deteriorate in the latter stages of this week.

Lake Zurich update:

A lot of good things are happening for the Bears, who were 10-2 overall and 5-0 in North Suburban play to kick off the week.

The Bears downed previously unbeaten York 38-35 at the Exam Jamm event and also defeated Warren 53-28 in conference action.

"We are finally catching up from missing the entire first week of our season due to a flu outbreak," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said. "Our defense is starting to look like Lake Zurich defense, and we are getting more efficient on the offensive end."

Baylie Parks leads Lake Zurich in scoring at 12 points per game, while Avery Cooper is right with her at 10.9 a game. Cooper is the team's top rebounder at 7.3 per game, while Brooke Wahlund averages 6.6 rebounds. Parks also leads the team in assists (3.4 per game).

Bennett added don't sleep on the play of sophomore Molly Friesen (8.4 points per game) and sophomore guard Sydney Lappin.

"Molly has really added a fifth scoring threat for our team and Sydney has played big minutes as a steady ball handler and defender," he said.

Bennett noted the Bears are shooting 50.6% from the floor as a team and average assists on 15 out of 19 buckets per game.

Lake Zurich is off to the Morton College Christmas tournament, "which I believe is, hands down, the most competitive tournament in the state with Benet, Fremd, Hersey, Geneva, Deerfield and Batavia there," Bennett said. "It's always fun to step away this time of the year from the conference race and see how you stack up against the best teams in the state."

Grayslake North update:

The Knights went 3-1 during a recent four-game stretch, losing 63-48 to Antioch, defeating Round Lake 50-19, defeating Marian Central 57-54 and Crystal Lake South 43-32. North was 9-6 overall and 3-2 in NLCC action to start the week.

Peyton Gerdes continues to rack up the points, averaging 26.8 points per game. Makayla Campbell is at 6.3 points and Reagan Kuzynowski was at 5.3 points. Dani Hanson leads the team in assists at 2.5, while Kuzynowski is at 2.1. Gerdes also is tops in rebounds at 11.3 per game, while Campbell averages 8.4 rebounds.

In their first game of the McHenry-Richmond-Burton Northern Illinois Holiday Classic against Marian Central, the Knights trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter only to have Gerdes score 22 points in the frame and help her team to a 3-point win. She had a career-best 43 points in the game.

"Our defensive intensity has been a catalyst for our team of late," North coach Brian Frericks said. "When we are fully engaged defensively, it drives our team and offensively we start making more shots."

Frericks said defensively Kuzynowski has been the team's defensive stopper. "Reagan has been tasked with guarding opposing team's best players and has been doing a great job."

Also of note for the Knights has been the play of freshman Lucy Roscoe. "Lucy is coming into her own," Frericks said. "She does it all for us on the court. She has been a knockdown shooter and all over the court defensively."

Vernon Hills update:

The Cougars were 10-4 overall and a solid 4-1 in Central Suburban North action to start the week.

Vernon Hills recently defeated Lake Park 51-46 in nonconference action, upended Maine East 73-29 in CSL North action and dropped a 30-point decision (52-22) to Libertyville.

Grace Koepke leads the Cougars in scoring and rebounding with a 12-11 double-double, respectively. Elyse Davis is shooting 45% from 3. Speaking of 3s, Ava Barszcz had six 3s on her way to 24 points in the Maine East win.

"Elyse Davis is playing well on both ends of the floor," Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner said. "Ava can score for us and Anahya Castro has given us some great minutes off the bench."

Brettner added when the Cougars stay in system offensively and defensively, "we can play with anyone, but when we stray from what we do as a team, then we can struggle," he said.

Vernon Hills heads to Libertyville for Christmas where it will face the hosts, Loyola Academy and Cary-Grove for starters. "These are the games that can really help us grow," Brettner said.

Stevenson update:

The Patriots scored a pair of North Suburban wins recently over Zion-Benton (66-15) and Mundelein (42-24) to move to 7-5 overall and 4-2 in NSC action.

Individually, Emory Klatt is averaging quite the double-double at 19.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Nisha Musunuri is averaging 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2 assists a contest. Kate Arne is at 9.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1 block per game.

Coach Ashley Graham said one key positive she has noticed is the team's ability to stay the course and unite with one another. "We have faced some moments of adversity and the kids always push through those moments in such a positive way," she said. "I am proud of their resilience and resolve."

As usual, the Patriots head to Dundee-Crown and the long-running Joe Komaromy Charger Classic over the holidays. "We're always so proud to be in this tournament. There is so much history through the years and so many great teams and coaches. It is a large tournament and we look forward to the competition each year."

Carmel update:

The Corsairs started this week 9-2 overall and 0-1 in East Suburban Catholic action. Carmel defeated Cardinal Ritter College Prep out of St. Louis 42-35 and also downed Lincoln-Way Central 43-35 in a nonconference tilt.

Coach Ben Berg pointed out Carmel has been especially on point on defense this year. Of the 11 games, the Corsairs have held 10 opponents to 38 points or less.

Jordan Wood averages 13.6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game, while Mia Gillis averages 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Ashley Schlabowske averages 8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Berg also likes how junior Keira Ackerson, sophomore Maia Cordova and freshman Josie Hartman have bene playing. "Keira, Maia and Josie have contributed key minutes and moments in games off the bench," he said.

Carmel is the No. 1 seed in the large-school division in the upcoming State Farm Christmas Classic in the Bloomington/Normal area. Carmel opens with Peoria Richwoods at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at Bloomington High School.

Grant update:

The Bulldogs defeated Waukegan 61-34 in their own holiday tournament in Fox Lake. Grant also defeated Antioch 44-41 in a recent Northern Lake County Conference game. The Bulldogs were 4-10 overall and 2-3 in NLCC action to start the week.

Junior forward Nevada Holm recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds against Waukegan. She also shot 3-for-3 from the 3-point line. Melissa Ketter also had a double-double against Waukegan with 15 points and 13 rebounds, to go with 6 assists and 4 steals. She also had a career-high 26 points against North Chicago and hit for 23 points against Grayslake North.

Sophomore Lily Capulong had 17 points against Johnsburg and North Chicago and added 12 points against both Grayslake North and Wauconda. She also averages 3 steals per game.

"Lily is our starting point guard," Grant coach Andrea Weaver started. "She has a good read of the floor and is a natural leader. As usual, Melissa is our highest scorer and also leads us in assists, and Nevada is our leading rebounder and has a sharp shot."

Weaver noted Grant had a rough go of it to start the season due to injuries. "Our starting lineup has changed many times," she said. "I think over the past two weeks we have finally got our feet under us. We are really well-matched with most teams in our conference and kept finding ourselves losing by just a few points. We shoot upwards of 100 free throws a practice. As a result, our percentages have improved drastically."

Lakes update:

The Eagles were 7-6 overall and 2-3 in NLCC play to start the week. Lakes lost to Grayslake Central in a close game this past Friday and then turned around and recorded a pair of wins in the McHenry/Richmond-Burton tournament.

"We played Grayslake Central close, but came up a little short," Lakes coach Brian Phelan said. "We had a quick turnaround the following day at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and grabbed two victories and ended up 2-1 in a 24-hour period."

Grayslake Central update:

The Rams were the leaders in the Northern Lake County Conference clubhouse to start the week at 5-0 (7-5 overall).

Recent conference wins were recorded against Antioch (50-36), Round Lake (44-33) and Lakes (44-37).

Madison Hoffmann leads the way for Central, averaging 14 points, 2.8 steals, 2.4 assists and 2.1 blocks a game. Annie Wolff averages 6.8 rebounds.

Coach Steve Ikenn noted the Rams gave up an average of 33.3 points per game over a recent six-game stretch.

"We have had some injuries and played shorthanded lately, but different players have stepped up each night to help the team stay afloat," he said. "Whether it's players playing out of position, playing different roles or just upping their normal production, they have come through and we have strung together some really nice team wins as a result. In addition, we have continued to improve in defending as a team. We still need to work on consistency, but overall we have done a nice job of making teams work hard for points."

Ikenn said Dani Eckenstahler and Ava Henne have stepped into the starting lineup due to injuries, "and have done a great job for us," he said.

Eckenstahler had a 13-rebound game in her first start against Antioch, while Henne had 5 points and 5 rebounds in her first start against Lakes.

The Rams head to St. Viator over the Christmas holiday.

"It is a very tough tournament," Ikenn said, "with teams such as St. Viator, Prospect, St. Ignatius and Glenbrook North just to name a few. It will be a good test for us to see how we have grown as a team since the season started."

Round Lake update:

The Panthers recently defeated Belvidere 38-27 and also dropped recent contests to Grayslake North, Grayslake Central and Prairie Ridge to sit at 7-6 overall and 2-3 in Northern Lake County action to start the week.

Lilli Burton was leading the Panthers in scoring (12.6 ppg), rebounding (6.2 rpg) and steals (3.6 spg).

"Lilli has been the rock for our team," Round Lake coach Molly Hennig said. "She has stepped up to be our point guard, leading scorer and top defender this season. Lilli is a natural leader who radiates positively and leads by example. It's been very special to see her grow each of her four seasons on varsity."

Hennig noted Round Lake had numerous players in and out of the lineup over the last week. "This has allowed many girls to step up and they have risen to the occasion," she said.

Also playing well of late has been Layah Glover, a sophomore guard, who averages 5 rebounds and 3 steals in three starting assignments.

"Layah has been a recent addition to the starting lineup," Hennig noted. "Her defensive impact has helped lead the team."

Hennig also has been impressed with the continued improved play of Judy Cerroblanco, who averages 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 steals per game.

"Judy has become one of our top scorers," Hennig said. "Her ability to finish around the rim and see the floor has continued to develop in her junior season."

Round Lake is in the midst of the McHenry/Richmond-Burton Northern Illinois Holiday Classic.

"The tournament has a lot of talent in it," Hennig said. "It has been nice to see our conference have a lot of success early in the tournament."

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