Winning the game wasn’t important.
Winning the tiebreaker was.
Moments after losing to host Warren 39-23 in the final game of the Blue Devil Classic on Dec. 30, members of the Lake Forest girls basketball team broke out in cheer.
Thanks to the tiebreaker — free-throw percentage — the Scouts were declared the tourney champions.
“I’ve never had a team celebrate like that after a loss,” said LF head coach Kyle Wilhelm.
But something had to give, when three of the six teams — Lake Forest, Warren and Grayslake Central — finished the invitational with 4-1 records. By shooting 69.4 percent at the foul line in their five tourney games, the Scouts went home with the hardware.
And, it wasn’t even close. Warren, which fell to Grayslake Central 39-37 in a Day Four game, shot 56.1. GL Central, which dropped a 37-33 decision to Lake Forest on Dec. 28, ended up with a 52.9 percentage.
Two Scouts were named to the all-tournament team: junior center Ellie Pearson and sophomore guard Halle Douglass.
With the five wins, Lake Forest improved its overall mark to 11-7.
The Scouts were in a position to go undefeated in the tourney. They trailed Warren by only three points, 24-21, after three quarters.
But then, things unraveled. Lake Forest made only one shot — a bucket inside by Grace Tirzmalis — and committed seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t score,” said Wilhelm. “Warren did a good job of taking us out of our stuff.”
Pearson was LF’s leading scorer with nine points. She also had eight rebounds and four steals.
“Ellie had a great tournament. Really great,” Wilhelm said.
Tirzmalis finished with seven points and five rebounds, while Douglass handed out five assists and tallied five points.
LF’s defense was solid in the finale. The Scouts limited star guard Jordyn Hughes to four points (2-for-6 from the field).
With Hughes held under wraps, the Blue Devils turned to Kaylen Dickson (13 points), Macy Kocen (10 points) and Dana Lundtveidt (8 points).
Notable: After beating Highland Park 64-32 in the tourney opener on Dec. 26 (see Gamer), Lake Forest earned wins over Phillips 53-27 on Dec. 27, Grayslake Central 37-33 on Dec. 28 and Carmel Catholic 42-32 on Dec. 29. … LF’s stat leaders against Phillips included Ellie Pearson (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), Halle Douglass (7 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds) and Grace Tirzmalis (9 points, 5 rebounds). … Against Grayslake Central, the stat leaders were Douglass (14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Olivia Douglass (6 points) and Jen Whittington (6 points). … And against Carmel, the leaders were Halle Douglass (12 points, 7 rebounds), Pearson (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Whittington (11 points).