Strong finish sends Lake Zurich past Lake Forest

Host Lake Zurich definitely did not play its best basketball during the first half of its North Suburban Conference boys basketball showdown against Lake Forest.

The Bears went into halftime trailing 24-16 Friday night.

But when it came down to crunch time, the Bears were at the top of their game as they outscored the Scouts 13-5 in the third quarter to force a 29-29 deadlock heading into the final quarter.

Trailing 35-34, a rare 4-point play by sophomore Kain Kretschmar gave Lake Zurich (12-4, 4-1) the lead for keeps at 38-35 with 3:45 to play. From there, the Bears went on to post a 47-43 NSC victory to hand Lake Forest (11-5, 3-1) its first loss in NSC play.

A basket off a steal by Kretschmar capped an 8-1 run by Lake Zurich to give the hosts their biggest lead at 42-36 with 2:43 remaining.

Lake Forest's Bolurin Taiwo hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 1:13 to go to cut the gap to 42-39. But two free throws by Lake Zurich's Nick Popovic pretty much put the game away for a 46-41 lead with 10.1 seconds left.

Lake Zurich's balanced offensive attack was led by 6-foot-8 junior Anton Strelnikov with 13 points, Kretschmar with 12 points, and Popovic with 10 points.

"We just started off slow. At halftime we talked it out a lot, the team just worked well together and we used our energy to build the lead and keep going for the win," said Strelnikov, whose team outscored the Scouts 31-19 in the second half. "We're a very deep team. If one of us isn't having a good game there's always someone else we can rely on so that's what I feel like makes us great."

Lake Forest was led by junior Hudson Scroggins with a game-high 14 points while senior Efe Yardimci also hit double figures with 11 points. The Scouts also got 7 points from Campbell Allan while Taiwo chipped in 6 points in the losing effort.

"Coach (Mike) Kolze and coach (Austin) Scott came up with the game plan with what to do today defensively, and their offensive rebounds is what was hurting us in the first half," said Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin, whose team was outscored 13-7 in the second quarter. "By getting some stops we were able to push the ball in transition which is where we're really good. So I was proud of the effort, the resilience in that second half. Our guys executed great and we just played with a little more urgency in the second half."

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