Boys basketball season ends in Sectional semifinals

In their third matchup of the season — they split the first two — the Libertyville Wildcats were defeated by the Lake Zurich Bears, 54-50, in the Sectional semifinals of the IHSA State playoffs on Tuesday, March 6.

At the end of the first quarter, LHS trailed LZHS, 20-13. Seniors Josh Lilja and Drew Peterson both scored five points and junior Josh Steinhaus added three points in the period. The Bears took the lead by scoring mostly off of drives to the basket.

Lake Zurich’s J.R. Cison, a junior, was the leading scorer in the first quarter with eight points. The Bears picked up six fouls in the first quarter alone, double the amount of fouls that Libertyville had going into the second quarter.

“It was a tough game. We came out lacking intensity on the defensive end in the first half and it cost us,” senior Chase Eyre stated in an email. He added that the team was able to stay motivated in the game, despite starting off behind.  

Libertyville and Lake Zurich both scored 14 points in the second quarter, making the score 34-27 going into halftime.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter; LHS puts up eights points against the Bears’ six points, making the score 40-35 going into the final quarter.

Down the stretch, we had the looks we wanted, but the game just didn’t go our way

— Chase Eyre

“[I kept telling them,] we are a good basketball team, don’t be afraid to shoot, don’t be afraid to be aggressive, don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Head Coach Brian Zyrkowski said about his message to the team as they attempted to mount a comeback.

Libertyville gained momentum in the fourth quarter, outscoring Lake Zurich 15-14. This momentum was sparked by Peterson’s nine points, all scored within four minutes of the quarter.

Later in the period, Steinhaus was fouled on a drive to the basket and knocked down two free throws. Eyre added a free throw as well; his three-pointer with under three minutes left put Libertyville in the lead, 50-49.

“To come back in that game again, it’s gotta be about you, not about them. We did that, we were right there,” stated Coach Zyrkowski.

Libertyville played tight defense but Cison was able to score two points to put the Bears back in the lead, 51-50.

“Down the stretch, we had the looks we wanted, but the game just didn’t go our way,” Eyre said.

Towards the end of the game, as the Wildcats tried to mount their second straight comeback win, Peterson had two turnovers and Steinhaus missed a free throw.

The score was stagnant at 51-50 with 20 seconds left when LHS fouled LZHS’ Peter Dicerbo. Due to the fact that Lake Zurich was in the bonus, Dicerbo headed to the free-throw line for a one-and-one opportunity. Dicerbo, a senior, sunk both free throws to give the Bears a 53-50 edge.

On the following possession, Peterson missed a three-pointer that would have tied the game and Lake Zurich got the rebound. With three seconds left, Libertyville fouled Joe Heffernan, who made one out of his two free throws, expanding the Bears’ lead to four.

The Wildcats finished off their season with a 19-10 record. As for next season, Coach Zyrkowski said he hopes to be in the same position they were this year, and he expressed pride in the team and their success this season.

“I said at the beginning of the season, [that] this group was going to be unique. For my first year, I couldn’t have asked for a better, classier group of guys,” said Coach Zyrkowski, reflecting on the end of the season.