Wilhelm and Co. Come Out on Top in Three-Point Barrage; Advance to Sectional Title


Eddie Scheidler, Girls' Basketball Beat Reporter


LIBERTYVILLE, Il. – In a sport that never ceases to lull in the shadows of its tradition, the game of basketball is constantly modernizing and developing in front of our very eyes. More so today than ever before, teams shamelessly live and die behind the 3-point arc. It’s a big risk with the potential for even bigger rewards. When shots are falling, the grass always seems to be that much greener. On the other hand, it can very well be a team’s worst nightmare. In Tuesday night’s Sectional Semifinal tilt between the Scouts and conference rival Libertyville, a three-point barrage was on full display and neither team was ready to kiss their Sectional title hopes away.

Right from the get-go, both teams went back-and-forth, exchanging three-point bombs, while racing up and down the floor at full throttle. Junior Halle Douglass, after securing the opening tip-off, set herself up beyond the arc and buried the first of her three 3-point takes on the night. In the ensuing possession, the Wildcats charged down the court and connected on a three point attempt of their own. In a quarter that saw neither team able to slow down the other, the points quickly piled on as the period concluded with the hosts holding an 18-17 lead.

The second quarter wasn’t all that different. Coach Greg Pedersen’s Wildcat team stalled a bit offensively, while the Scouts kept their foot on the gas. With 3-pointers seemingly raining down from the sky, the hot shooting tears of each team were put to a halt as the first half came to a close, the scoreboard favoring the visitors this time around, 30-25.

After the break, a tenacious defensive effort epitomized a newfound attitude in the Scouts’ play. Once again, with sophomore duo Finola Summerville and Molly Fisher leading the way, Coach Kyle Wilhelm’s group upped it a notch or two on the defensive side of the ball. Better rotations converted into tighter windows for the Wildcats on the offensive end which in turn made scoring matters all the more difficult for the home team. The North Suburban Conference opponents progressed onward in their battle for a trip to the Sectional title, not allowing the other much leeway.

With the stands packed, Wildcats’ fans began to sweat when Lake Forest found themselves ahead by ten as the third period was drawing to an end. Then, sparked by a short-lived run with 18 seconds on the clock, Libertyville junior Margaret Buchert trotted down the court and knocked down back-to-back triples. To the surprise of just about everyone in the gym, the two teams were tied at 41 apiece heading into the final quarter of play.

Despite a tightly contested shootout for the first three periods of the game, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story. In a win-or-go-home environment, Wilhelm’s bunch rose to the occasion. Ignited by a go-ahead lay-in by senior Grace Tirzmalis, the Scouts went on to score 14 unanswered points (25 in the quarter alone) to give them a 55-41 edge with five minutes remaining. And with an unwavering sense of relentlessness at the heart of their defensive schemes, Lake Forest held their ground to earn the 66-53 win over the Wildcats.

On the night, the two teams together hoisted up a staggering 49 attempts from 3-point range. Lake Forest drilled 10-25 (40%) of their looks while the hosts shot a slightly better 50% (12-24). Compiling the majority of those long-distance looks was Buchert, as she capped off her night on a notable 6-8 (75%) from three.

And with the Wildcats focusing so much defensively on limiting the Scouts’ inside attack after suffering greatly from it in their two most recent matchups, Wilhelm and Co. were destined for success from the perimeter. When it was all said and done, Douglass, Fisher, and Tirzmalis all sank three 3’s of their own. Aside from their dominant outside shooting, Douglass finished yet another productive night with a game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Additionally, Tirzmalis put up double digit scoring numbers as well, contributing 22 points and seven rebounds.

Libertyville may have notched the top position in NSC standings, but the Scouts had the last laugh Tuesday night. Not only did they defeat the Wildcats for the second time this year, but they took home the season series. Moreover, they removed one of their biggest rivals from any future playoff contention. In all honesty, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Nonetheless, Lake Forest advances to the Sectional title game with a record of 26-7, a program all-time best. Facing a 27-4 Fremd team, the Scouts look to earn their first ever Sectional title against the current top-seeded Vikings this Thursday at 7 pm. at Libertyville High School.