An Associated Press panel of Illinois sportswriters ranks high school girls basketball teams throughout each season. It publishes the top-10 vote getters each time, plus others receiving votes.
Where was Lake Forest High School in the latest rankings?
Not even in the “others” group.
“The North Suburban Conference [NSC] gets
overlooked,” said LFHS coach Kyle Wilhelm, who had eight reasons to smile after a victory in the Class 4A Libertyville Sectional final on February 21.
“Maybe it’s because we’re too close to the Illinois- Wisconsin border.”
Those eight reasons for Wilhelm’s look of satisfaction? His Scouts had just defeated state-ranked Fremd’s Vikings 49-43, meaning NSC member LFHS and only seven other schools remained alive in the 4A state playoffs.The sectional championship was the first—girls or boys—in school history, and the 27th win represented a program record for victories in a season.
“We’re in the Elite Eight …crazy,”Wilhelm, still sporting a seemingly permanent smile, said.“I’ll take history.”
He’ll take Ellie Pearson’s fearless three-point shooting, too. The 6-foot-1 senior forward con- nected twice from long range, with her second trey giving second-seeded LFHS a 27-25 lead at 1:16 of the third quarter.Top-seeded Fremd (29-5) would fall behind 40-28 midway through the final frame.
Pearson’s clutch shot, launched near her team’s bench, lifted a squad that had faced a 13-5 deficit in the second minute of the second quarter.
“My ALL IN club coach [Kahleaf Russell] en- couraged me to work on my three-point shot in the offseason,” said Pearson, a Johns Hopkins University recruit who will likely shift from power forward to small forward at the college level.
Pearson finished with nine points and three re- bounds. Scouts junior point guard Halle Douglass shrugged off a scoreless first quarter and scored 18 points,including 11 (in 12 attempts).The program’s all-time leader in career assists also dished five assists against the Vikings.
LFHS sophomore guard Molly Fisher (nine points, five steals) hit two of three trey attempts. Wilhelm also received significant efforts from senior forward Grace Tirzmalis (six points, six rebounds) and sophomore guard Finola Summerville (five points, five rebounds).
“We’ve become a more well-rounded team lately,” the coach said after his club improved to 27-7. “And our defense was unbelievable, relentless … suffocating.
“I knew we had this in us. The girls have been playing with so much confidence, the last month in particular. They believe. They believe they belong in the conversation.”
Run ends: LFHS lost 53-34 to Maine West in the Class 4A supersectional at Palatine HS on February 25.