Explosive Third Quarter Propels Scouts to Regional Championship Victory


Eddie Scheidler, Girls' Basketball Beat Reporter

LAKE FOREST, IL. – Sometimes words don’t do justice. To be completely and wholeheartedly encapsulated in a moment, only to then try and translate that emotion into something tangible is a rather daunting task and next to impossible. Candidly, as simple as it may sound, words just don’t suffice. For the Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team, a similar story held true Thursday night as the final ticks on the clock signaled the end to a game that Scouts’ players, coaches, and fans will never forget.

Storming the court. Cutting down the net in front of the home crowd. Tying the program’s all-time season win total. Hoisting up the IHSA Class 4A Regional Title plaque. Much happened after Coach Kyle Wilhelm’s group secured a landslide 64-39 regional championship victory over Buffalo Grove, yet no string of words can adequately signify and convey the sort of emotion felt within the confines of the Competition Gym on Thursday night.

But before the celebration and post game festivities could begin, there was a game to play. With a regional title on the line, the two teams came out the gates and held nothing back. And given that the last time these non-conference opponents met the game was decided by single digits, each team entered the contest expecting a tightly contested rematch. Though the Bison were able to keep pace with the home team for much of the first half, their efforts soon lulled and the Scouts’ consistency from start to finish carried them through the full 32-minute stretch. At the break, Lake Forest held a 29-17 halftime lead over the visitors.

In arguably the best quarter of basketball we’ve seen from them on the year, the Scouts’ third quarter push proved to be the difference maker in the outcome of the game and ultimately the final nail in the coffin. For Wilhelm’s bunch, the second half was largely categorized by an unselfish offensive attack that was mirrored by defensive play that matched its high level of intensity.

Sophomore Molly Fisher headlined a relentless Lake Forest defense that wore down Buffalo Grove’s backcourt and suffocated their bigs inside. And as the number of offensive trips for the Bison grew, the more frustrated and bothered they became. Forcing myriad steals and careless turnovers, it didn’t take long before the home team in white uniforms piled on the points. Largely in part to the court vision and ball movement of junior Halle Douglass, there always seemed to be an open teammate. More times than not, senior Ellie Pearson was on the receiving end of those point-blank looks around the rim. In the third period alone, the Scouts outscored their opponent 22-7, with both sides of the ball playing a direct role on the outpouring of points.

Backed by a 51-24 edge entering the fourth and final quarter of play, the Lake Forest bench was able to chime in on the fun. Even with reserves taking up the majority of the final eight minutes, the Scouts extended the lead to 34 midway through the period.

Pearson, finishing the game with 16 total points, undoubtedly played some of the best ball of her high school career. Recording a near triple-double, Douglass capped off another efficient night with 11 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. Senior Grace Tirzmalis contributed a steady ten points. Sophomores Finolla Summerville and Molly Fisher led the charge on the defensive end, while adding nine and six points respectively

All things considered, this was the team’s best all-around game this season. Every member of the team, from the top of the ladder to the bottom, contributed in one way or another. There wasn’t one person alone responsible for Thursday night’s success. Furthermore, Buffalo Grove was outright mismatched in just about every category, with Lake Forest being as well-rounded a team as they come. With considerable size in the paint in Pearson, three-point specialists in Fisher and Tirzmalis, the slashing-ability to get to the basket in Douglass, Summerville on the boards, and any reserve prepared to check in and change the course of the game at a moment’s notice, the Scouts did not suffer a single lapse.

There’s no two ways about it: any doubts surrounding the Scouts’ playoff run were eliminated after such a dominant showing. Looking down the road, Wilhelm’s group, now standing at an all-time best of 25-7, advances to the sectional semifinal against sectional host and familiar foe Libertyville this Tuesday at 6pm. After splitting the season series at one apiece, the upcoming tie-breaker will feature two talented, fast-paced offenses ready to put the brakes on the other team’s sectional title hopes.

All in all, please join me in congratulating your 2019 Regional Champs!