Wednesday night’s matchup between the North Suburban Conference leaders lived up to all expectations.
No. 5 Lake Forest and No. 11 Libertyville met for the second time this season for sole possession of first place in the conference.
When it was all said and done, Libertyville’s Margaret Buchert’s left handed desperation attempt crashed off the backboard and in, stunning the Lake Forest fans for the 42-39 Libertyville victory.
“That’s exactly how we drew it up, we call that one ‘Desperation,’” joked Libertyville head coach Greg Pedersen. “We wanted to get the clock down, we wanted to get a shot up at five but we waited a little too long to start the process. We wanted to get the ball to a different kid but we couldn’t so Margaret had to react and she did.”
The first quarter was a good preview for the entirety of the night. Libertyville got out to a 10-6 lead thanks to an incredible effort on the offensive glass as the Wildcats grabbed 6 offensive in the opening frame.
Despite taking advantage of their second and third opportunities, Lake Forest fought back behind Halle Douglass as the Wisconsin commit went on a personal 5-0 run to give the Scouts the lead after one quarter.
Libertyville did everything they could to contain Douglass, mixing up their defenses with face guarding, double teams, and even the occasional triple team.
Though Douglass still finished with a game high 18 points, the strategy paid off as she was held well below her season average.
“I don’t want to throw numbers out there but she (Douglass) is scoring 28 to 30 every game she plays right now, so Emily Fisher and Marianna Morrissey did a great job tonight,” said Pedersen. “It takes so much energy to keep up with her but they did a good job angling her to our help and our other kids were up to the task of being there to help out.”
Trailing at halftime, Libertyville came out with a new sense of urgency after the break. The Wildcats upped the pressure and cut the deficit to just two points before Lake Forest settled back in and maintained a two possession advantage.
Lake Forest lead did not last long however, as Libertyville tied the game early in the fourth quarter.
The two teams continued to exchange baskets for the majority of the final quarter, with neither team being able to extend their advantage beyond one possession.
Libertyville held a slim two point lead with less than remaining, but an untimely turnover led to a runout for Douglass to tie the game once again.
Fortunately though for Libertyville, Buchert’s heroics were enough to overcome the late turnover. The Wildcats held for the last shot, Buchert improvised on a broken play as her left handed heave towards the backboard caromed off the box and went in as time expired giving the Wildcats the 42-39 victory.
The Wildcats win avenges a December 64-60 loss to Lake Forest. This did not go unnoticed by Pederson: “This is a rival. Our kids have known these kids for the longest time, they play together in the offseason, they really like each other and are friendly but they really want to go at it when the game is up there. It is just a great atmosphere to be a part of.”
With the win the Wildcats have now run their win streak to 11 games. Libertyville improves to 15-4 and will return to action this Saturday when they face Prospect. Lake Forest drops to 17-4 and will hope to rebound as well on Saturday as they travel to take on #14 Hersey.