With Libertyville down four of its major players, Lake Forest was the heavy favorite going into Friday night's game. For about three quarters, the Scouts looked the part.
Before the fourth quarter, the 4-1 Scouts were helped by lights-out defense as they held Libertyville to single digits in each of the first three quarters. Luckily for Lake Forest, they were able to weather a 20-10 fourth quarter Wildcats barrage and escape with the 48-36 Lake Division win.
Through the third quarter, Libertyville (1-4, 0-1 NSC-Lake) could only muster 18 points of offense, including a dismal 3-point third quarter without a single field goal. Meanwhile, Lake Forest's offense ignited to the tune of 19 points in the second quarter and 12 more in the third.
"We were solid defensively," Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said. "We did a good job containing them in the first half and the third quarter. When you can hold a team under double digits (in a quarter), it's really nice."
Lake Forest's Michigan-bound star Matt Vogrich led the way with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Mitch Hopfinger put up 11 points and 8 rebounds. Jonathan Sobinski helped with 9 points in addition to 3 boards and 2 assists.
Josh Trees led the way for Libertyville with 13 points and 5 rebounds while Julian Hill put up 9 points to go along with 6 rebounds.
Going into the fourth quarter, Lake Forest was in control to the tune of a 36-18 lead. But Libertyville wouldn't go down without a fight.
The Wildcats rode a wave of offense with a 15-3 run from the end of the third quarter until 3:42 left in the game. By the end of it, Libertyville had cut their deficit to 7 points on 2 of Trees' free throws.
Libertyville pulled to within 5 points on a trey from Burton with just over 31 seconds left to put the score at 41-35. But that's as far as the Wildcats would go as Lake Forest slammed the door with free throws from Vogrich and Sobinsky.
"We were lenient on them," Lake Forest senior Jonathan Sobinsky said. "We didn't keep up our defense and we were sloppy with the ball, so we let them back in the game.
"Every team in the NSC is loaded, and even if you're up by 20 points, they're going to come back if you let your guard down."
Even with the loss, Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil was pleased with his team's effort. Despite playing shorthanded, the Wildcats were able to make a game out of it in the fourth quarter.
"With four kids out, we couldn't go very deep into our bench," Bogumil said. "We knew we wanted to keep the score in the 40's and we got into a half court game. That's exactly what we wanted to do even though we didn't get the win."