Lake County girls basketball notes: Fisher, Rule two keys to Libertyville's strong start

It's been quite the few days for the Libertyville girls basketball team.

The Wildcats were 6-2 overall and 2-0 in North Suburban Conference play to start the week, which included a big 50-30 win over defending Class 4A state-champion Stevenson. The Cats also defeated St. Viator 62-31 and Zion-Benton 61-20.

Coach Greg Pedersen was effusive in his praise of Emily Fisher's recent performance during the Cats' recent run of success.

"Our surge here is made possible by the defensive intensity brought by Emily Fisher," he said. "This past week she was scrappy and determined, and our record reflects her energy."

Kate Rule also has been elite, while sophomore Madison Sears and freshman Sophia Swanson are providing bench production, Pedersen noted.

"Kate Rule has shown a strong offensive presence," he said. "She's shooting well and has resolve to create offense for our team. Off the bench, we have received good minutes from Madison and Sophia. We feel like we can mix up our lineups, get people rest and not lose the momentum we have been building."

In that recent three-game run, Fisher averaged 12.7 points, 7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and shot 57 percent from the floor, while Rule also averaged 12.7 points to go with 4 steals, 3 boards and 1.5 assists while shooting 45 percent. Rule was particularly key against the defending champions with 8 rebounds and 5 steals.

Also of importance has been the play of Maddy Kopala. "Maddy brings energy and muscle to our team," Pedersen said. "She can defend against post or guards, and she does it with a motor that does not stop."

Wauconda update:

Not a bad start for the Bulldogs, who were 5-1 (1-0 Northern Lake County Conference) to start the week after a busy stretch with a loss to Marian Central (45-37) and wins against Round Lake (52-51) and Woodstock North (46-33).

"I am proud of my team that they keep finding ways to win without playing our best consistently," Bulldogs coach Jaime Dennis said. "We continue to fight and grind to make up for mistakes. They keep working hard and getting a little better each game."

Dennis gave a player of the week honor to Helen Macey, who turned in 3 double-doubles, tearing off a 23-point, 12-rebound effort against Marian Central, and then following up with 18 points and 10 boards against Round Lake and an even more impressive 17-point, 19-rebound effort against Woodstock North.

Dennis also cited Alexia Manalo for strong play. "Alexia is a freshman who has stepped into the point guard position," she explained. "She is doing a nice job of adjusting to the varsity game and being a leader on the floor for us."

Carmel update:

Wins against Lake Forest (37-29) and Neuqua Valley (39-37) moved the Corsairs to 7-1 overall. Carmel downed Neuqua without its starting backcourt of Ashley Schlabowske and Kyla Smith, who were both ill. Mia Gillis' basket with 2 seconds to play won it.

On the statistical end, Jordan Wood leads Carmel in scoring at 14.6 points per game, while averaging 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Gillis is at 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while Schlabowske is at 9.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds, while shooting 45 percent from 3. Junior Keira Ackerson is shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line.

Coach Ben Berg noted the Corsairs have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and gave up more than 40 points once in those first eight games (to Benet Academy).

And the hits keep coming in terms of contributions, Berg noted, with sophomore Maia Cordova, freshman Josie Hartman and Ackerson performing well off the bench. Senior Caitie Brunk saw her first game action in 15 months against Neuqua, "and played tremendously," Berg said. Brunk had been sidelined with a knee injury.

Vernon Hills update:

The Cougars were 5-3 overall and 1-1 in Central Suburban North play to start the week after a 72-40 loss to Deerfield in conference play and a 62-54 loss to St. Viator.

Grace Koepke leads the Cougars in scoring and rebounding at 16 and 12 per game, respectively. "Grace is a tough presence inside," Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner said.

Alexa Cieslinski is at 8.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

"Our offense is starting to click," Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner said. "We have implemented some new facets and kids are starting to see how it can result in good shots. Our new varsity kids are starting to make more of a difference. Their experience is helping them gain confidence."

Brettner also gave high marks to Elyse Davis and Keira Thomas.

"Elyse has a high motor," he said. "She is good defensively and is progressing on the offensive side as well. Keira is a freshman who is earning some good minutes and is a strong defender."

Grayslake North update:

Knights standout Peyton Gerdes continues to pour in points and snag rebounds at high rates.

Gerdes is averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds per game. To start the week, she was 15 points from breaking the school's all-time career scoring record.

Coach Brian Frericks also likes the distribution abilities of Dani Hanson and Reagan Kuzynowski, both sitting at 2.5 assists per game for the Knights (4-4, 0-1 NLCC to start the week). North defeated Crystal Lake South 54-43 and lost to crosstown foe Grayslake Central 48-33 in recent games.

"When we have more than 12 assists in a game we are 3-1," Frericks pointed out. "When we have less than 12, we are 1-3. When we move the ball, we are a very difficult team to defend. Reagan has been a great facilitator for us lately (averaging more than 3.5 assists over a recent 3-game stretch)."

Anneke Holm also was cited for notable play. "While the numbers don't show Anneke's impact, she has been all over the court," Frericks said. "She is everywhere defensively, one of our best rebounders at 5-5, and provides a ton of energy for our team."

Lake Zurich update:

The Bears started the week 5-2 overall and 2-0 in North Suburban play. Lake Zurich scored a big recent 61-49 win over Huntley at the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase at Fremd in Palatine.

Reasons for Lake Zurich's early-season success? Balance scoring certainly would be at the top of the list where four players average 8.9 points or higher led by sophomore Avery Cooper at 10.4 points per game (7.1 rebounds, 3 assists), Senior Baylie Parks averages 10.1 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, while sophomore Molly Friesen is at 9.1 points and junior Anna Gilbertson checks in at 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds. Gilbertson had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, and Parks had 17 points in the Huntley win.

"We are slowly getting back to normal after losing our first week of the season to the flu," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said, whose team plays Stevenson and Barrington, last season's two Class 4A state finalists.

Stevenson update:

The Patriots were 4-3 overall and 1-1 in NSC play through their first seven games. Stevenson lost recent games to Libertyville and Fremd.

"Going against great competition exposes where we need to get better and gets us certainly back in the film room and putting our heads down and just going back to working hard on the practice floor and staying the course," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "We have great kids who want to do well and get better. We will get there and each game take steps forward."

Emory Klatt leads the way for Stevenson, averaging 20.4 points and 15 rebounds per game, while shooting 53 percent from the field. Kate Arne averages 10 points and 3 rebounds, while shooting 42 percent from the field.

Grayslake Central update:

The Rams moved to 3-5 with recent wins over Woodstock (59-34) and town neighbor Grayslake North (48-33). Central coach Steve Ikenn noted his squad has taken it up a notch on defense allowing an average of 33.5 points in those two recent wins.

Madison Hoffmann leads the Rams in scoring at 12.5 points per game, while Katelyn Marcelian is at 6.6 points per contest.

"We learned a lot from playing state-ranked teams over Thanksgiving," Ikenn said. "Since that tournament ended we have done a better job of taking care of the little things, and our team chemistry has also gotten better. Teams like Hersey, Libertyville and Barrington are talented teams that take advantage of your mistakes and play as a unit. Those ae important things for every team to learn, especially a young, inexperienced team like us. The last two games have shown that we can bounce back from a bad game, and they have also given us a little confidence and a glimpse into what we can do as a team."

Freshman Mosey Drevline scored 10 points in the Woodstock game. "Mosey is settling into her role as the starting point guard, but more importantly was steady in both games (last week) running the offense," Ikenn said.

Round Lake update:

The Panthers were 4-3 overall through their first seven games. Round Lake downed Wheeling (43-33) and Highland Park (38-35) and lost its Northern Lake County opener to Wauconda by a point (52-51).

Lilli Burton leads the Panthers in scoring at 14.4 points, while Aniyah Moody is averaging a double-double at 10.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

"We continue to grow as a team with each game," Round Lake coach Molly Hennig said. "Everyone is stepping up in ways that are helping the team on both ends of the floor."

Round Lake is limiting opponents to an average of 36.7 points per game, "which is one of our focuses this year," Hennig pointed out.

Speaking of defense, Hennig said Judith Cerroblanco has become one of the team's top defenders. "She has also become one of our leading scorers, which has helped balance out our scoring in each game," she added.

Cerroblanco had point outputs of 11, 11 and 9 in those three recent games.

Strong defensive play also has been supplied by Allison Dittmer. "Allison has been the heart and soul of our defense the past two seasons," Hennig said. "Her energy is contagious on our team and propels us defensively."

Dittmer had a career-high 11 points against Wauconda.

Mundelein update:

The Mustangs were at .500 (4-4) through their first eight games. Mundelein lost recent North Suburban games to Lake Zurich (60-34) and Lake Forest (52-41) and beat Lakes (51-39) in a nonconference game.

"Our team has been improving every game and it comes down to their willingness to work every day, trust the process and trust each other," Mundelein coach Sarah Teipel said. "Our practices have been strong, and the girls are seeing our steps forward as a group with each day."

Junior Rylan Foster leads the team in scoring at 13 points per game, to go with 7 rebounds per game. She's also shooting 83.3 percent from the foul line - only 7 missed throws in 42 attempts. Freshman Casey Vyverman is averaging 10 points and has made 17 threes, while shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range. She's also shooting 46.2 percent from within the arc, while bringing in 3 rebounds per game. Senior Gracie Werner adds 7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

"Casey, Rylan and Gracie have really stepped up for the team through doing the little things," Teipel said.

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