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Finish suits Wheaton North at Lake Zurich
By Joe Aguilar | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/19/2013 11:59 PM

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Expect the big basketball kids to be in an especially good mood when they assist the little ones at Wheaton North today.

After playing three games in 24 hours, Wheaton North’s varsity boys get no break from ball, as they’ll help at a feeder tournament.

“It’s worth it,” Falcons junior guard Matt Biegalski said. “We all like it.”

Wheaton North fans had to love this: Their Falcons capped a busy day in Lake Zurich’s inaugural Martin Luther King Classic on Saturday night by edging the host Bears 52-51 on Biegalski’s late basket.

The win, which featured Biegalski’s 18 points and Jaylen Howze’s 17, came after a big fourth quarter allowed Wheaton North to beat Harlem 76-64 earlier in the day. On Friday night, the Falcons nipped Wheaton Warrenville South.

With several football players, including Biegalski and Howze, getting a late start to the season thanks to a playoff run that extended to the Class 7A state quarterfinals, the Falcons got off to a slow start. But they have won six of their last eight games.

“We’re really clicking,” Biegalski said. “All the football guys are back, we’re in basketball mode and we’re buying into what Coach is telling us to do. We’re really getting a good bond with each other.”

Ryan Roach scored a season-high 18 points for Lake Zurich (10-12), which beat Streamwood 54-41 earlier in the day. Roach was on fire early, scoring 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, on 4-of-4 shooting in the opening quarter.

“It helps when you make your first shot,” Roach said. “It gives you the confidence to keep shooting. I thought my teammates were doing a great job of finding me for open 3s.”

Thanks largely to Roach and 3-pointers as well from Brad Kruse, John Repplinger and Mike Travlos, Lake Zurich built a 20-9 lead and was up 21-13 after one quarter. But Wheaton North (9-7) has overcome slow starts before and drew on that experience. The Falcons limited Lake Zurich’s perimeter looks, got 6 points from Howze and 3-pointers of their own by Biegalski and Mitch Vosberg (7 points), and took a 31-29 lead into halftime.

“Lake Zurich is a very good team, has a lot of shooters and is tough to defend,” Wheaton North coach David Brackmann said. “I thought it was a really well-played game by both teams. ... This is a really good win for us on the road.”

Roach’s 2 free throws with exactly two minutes left had Lake Zurich up 51-50. But Biegalski, as he did all game, drove to the basket aggressively. In traffic, he banked in a 10-footer with 34 seconds left.

“That was a really tough shot,” Brackmann said. “We were trying to get the ball in his hands with something going to the basket. He made a play. They played great defense on him.”

“The other guys were playing well, so (Lake Zurich) had to play tighter on them,” Biegalski said of his teammates. “That helped me get the bucket.”

Wheaton North’s 6-foot-11 Andrew Zelis grabbed 10 rebounds, while 6-6 Jake Heggeland scored 6 points, including a two-handed dunk after he stole the ball. Howze and Zelis scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, against Harlem.

“They do a great job,” Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher said of the Falcons. “They’re physical, they’re strong, they’re aggressive. We just couldn’t stop the drive. That really hurt us. We tried to take a charge a couple of times and they were able to slide by us. They had good finishing around the basket.”

Roach had the ball in his hands in the closing seconds, but his well-defended 3-point try was just off the mark. Roach scored 6 points in the fourth, twice finishing tough runners in the lane. He shot 7 of 10 from the floor.

“He had a great game,” Pitcher said of his senior floor leader. “He put us on his back and had us in position to win the game.”

“We played hard,” Roach said. “There were some mistakes down the stretch, but overall I think there are a lot of positives we can take.”