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There was a reason first-year Libertyville coach Greg Peterson was smiling after his team’s 62-33 romp over Grant in the first round of the Mundelein Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament Wednesday.
Specifically, his club’s defense resembled a swarm of bees.
The Wildcats held Grant to a 13-for-42 shooting mark from the field (30.9 percent) and finished the game with 22 steals in a contest that got out-of-hand early.
“Our defense was great today,” Peterson said. “We need our defense to create our offense, (because) we’ve had plenty of games where we’ve scored in the 30s.”
Wednesday certainly wasn’t one of those times.
Libertyville’s 62-point outburst was fueled by a pair of seniors in forward Dana Kym (game-high 13 points, nine rebounds) and guard Olivia Mayer (12 points, seven steals), who were each aggressive at both ends of the floor.
“I’d actually like to see Olivia (who was 5-for-9 from the field) shoot the ball more,” Peterson said. “We have a specific number in mind we’d like to see from her. We feel if she takes 15 shots a game, it gives us a much better chance at winning.”
The Wildcats (5-9) took a 30-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, extended their advantage to 21 points at the end of three, and were ahead by as many as 30 late in the fourth quarter. Seven of Libertyville’s reserves also tallied points Wednesday, outscoring the Bulldogs’ bench by a 26-16 margin.
Grant was led by juniors Kaylie Kanzler (seven points) and Deanna Rodriguez (six points).
In other first-round action, Vernon Hills got a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds from junior guard Sydney Smith, who propelled the Cougars to an easy 54-29 win over host Mundelein.
Vernon Hills, which is unbeaten at 14-0, will face Cary-Grove in the early game at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Trojans beat Lake Park 58-35 Wednesday.
In a later game, Prairie Ridge pulled away for a 56-40 victory over Hoffman Estates. Libertyville faces Prairie Ridge in the 3:30 p.m. second-round game Thursday afternoon.