Lake Zurich stymies Libertyville to grab NSC lead

The last two undefeated teams in the North Suburban Conference met in a showdown for first place when host Lake Zurich met Libertyville in a North Suburban Conference girls basketball showdown Wednesday night.

Overall, the host Bears had the upper hand in this rivalry as they built a 14-point first half lead before taking a 31-21 lead into the final quarter.

Libertyville (16-3, 6-1) did cut the lead to 40-34 with 34 seconds to play. But Lake Zurich (16-3, 8-0) was able to hold on with two late free throws by Baylie Parks to seal a 42-34 NSC victory in the pressure-packed game.

The Bears pretty much set the tone for the game from the outset as they built an early 14-4 lead. They led 16-8 after one quarter, and 24-16 at halftime.

It looked like the Wildcats would get back into the game when Kate Rule hit a 10-footer to cap an 8-point run, cutting Lake Zurich's lead to 24-18 early in the third quarter. But a 7-1 run by the Bears boosted the lead back up to 31-19 late in the period.

"Lake Zurich played a really good game. They were defensively strong, and we didn't respond well," said Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen, whose team only shot 1-for-18 from beyond the 3-point arch. "It was just a miserable shooting night. It's all credit to Lake Zurich, and we need to do better. Not good enough."

Libertyville's Emily Fisher (9 points) scored on a drive with 7:50 to play to cut the lead to 31-23. But a 9-point run by the Bears gave the hosts their biggest lead at 40-23 with 5:41 remaining.

Two free throws by Libertyville's Rachel Rule (team-high 13 points) capped an 11-point run for the Wildcats. But that was as close as they would get at 40-34 as a missed 3-pointer with 22 seconds left sealed what little chance Libertyville had of pulling off a miracle win.

"We played an outstanding three quarters and then held on for our lives. But Libertyville is a great basketball team so sooner or later they are going to make a big run," said Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett. "We haven't beaten them in the last three years so it was nice to get a W and finishing the first half of the conference season undefeated is nice."

Parks scored 9 points in each half to account for her game-high 18 points while teammate Brooke Wahlund scored 8 points.

Molly Friesen scored 6 points for the Bears while teammates Anna Gilbertson and Avery Cooper scored 5 points each.

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