Road to redemption: boys basketball avenges a year-old defeat against Lake Forest

Guarded by a Lake Forest player, senior Jack Huber (22) clutches the ball tightly, formulating a play to take it to the basket, while seniors Kaj Sorensen (3) and Aidyn Boone (40) move into position in the background. Huber, a strong shot with a penchant for three-pointers, played an outstanding game for the Cats.

In the 2021-22 season of varsity boys basketball, the Libertyville Wildcats played the Lake Forest Scouts twice, playing well against their huge rival, but ultimately coming up just short both times. A year later, armed with a powerhouse team of new and returning talent, the time came for a rematch. On a Tuesday night in the main gym, on Jan. 24, 2023, the Wildcats successfully defeated the Scouts with a final score of 57-45.

The first eight-minute quarter showed that it would be a fierce competition for both sides. Although Libertyville jumped to an early 4-2 lead, Lake Forest quickly tied it at four apiece. Senior Jack Huber (22) stepped up for his team. The sharpshooting senior made a quick three-pointer, had a stellar rebound, and had two steals. One of his steals drew a foul, and he secured one of the two shots for his team. Other key players during the first quarter were seniors Aidyn Boone (40) who secured another 3-pointer, and Kaj Sorensen (3) with a rebound and a received pass off of Huber’s second steal. Ultimately, the first quarter saw the Wildcats up 15-13.

The second quarter was unique for a couple of reasons. First, the Scouts jumped to a one-point lead, although it was one that quickly disappeared following a pass to and basket by senior Cole Bonder (35), who used his 6’6” frame to put the “power” in power forward. 

Second, two juniors were subbed in over the course of the quarter, the only two during the game. As Lake Forest gained a two-point lead, junior Kyle Carollo (10) was subbed in for Sorensen. A couple of plays later, fellow junior Ben Van Lyssel (23) was subbed in for Bonder. Both played together on the sophomore team last year, and tonight, their dynamic led to an amazing game from both, with the second quarter giving Carollo a chance to demonstrate his aggressive rebounding technique and ability to lock down on defense. 

Carollo spoke highly of his time on the court. “It was awesome playing with my guys,” said Carollo. “I knew I wasn’t going to get in for long and I just had to make the most of it when I got in and play my role, and that’s what I did.” Ultimately, the second quarter ended with the Scouts up 27-24.

The third quarter saw Van Lyssel’s time to shine. Subbed in a second time for senior Henry Eads (21), Van Lyssel made quick work of tying the game at 27 points each. Following three-pointers by Sorensen and Boone, the Wildcats finished the quarter with a 42-31 lead, no doubt in part because of Van Lyssel’s efforts. 

Van Lyssel spoke appreciatively of the team’s gratitude for their win. “It felt great,” Van Lyssel said. “We were coming off a hard loss against Warren, so we really needed to bounce back this game and we executed it. We did everything we needed to.”

The fourth quarter was one that marked not only impressive athletic ability for the Wildcats, but also sportsmanship. Playing for the Scouts, senior Asa Thomas (5), who has committed to Clemson, lost traction on the court twice into the quarter. Their opponent clearly in pain, the home team demonstrated impressive sportsmanship, as the team quieted, and Sorensen and Boone helped the rival player. 

“It’s tough when you see any athlete fall on the court,” athletic director John Woods, in his fifth year in the position at Libertyville, said. “You just want to respect the game.” 

Thomas ultimately got to his feet and continued playing. 

Of course, sportsmanship was not the only thing on the side of the Wildcats. The momentum and possession of the game had shifted to favor the home team, and ultimately, they pulled through and won the game 57-45. 

Woods spoke highly of the team, saying that one key point he enjoyed about the game was “the composure, down the stretch, of our kids.”