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02/02/2013 WIlmette Lake Forest senior Sam Downey (33) puts up a shot during the "War On The Shore" tournament game against Evanston at Loyola High School on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Lake Forest defeated Evanston 63-45. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-T
Just minutes after the Lake Forest boys basketball team lost to Warren on a last-second three-pointer Friday, Scouts coach Phil LaScala was clear in his belief.
“I think we definitely have to regroup them, get them back together,” LaScala said. “We have a strong senior group. I’m really confident that the seniors can rally us back together and get us to where we need to go.”
There was urgency in LaScala’s voice. Lake Forest had just dropped its third consecutive North Suburban Conference game. In back-to-back games, the Scouts had blown leads and lost on buzzer-beaters. Friday it was Warren’s Aarias Austin. On Jan. 26, Zion-Benton’s Malik Yarbrough nailed a 3-pointer to beat Lake Forest.
Throughout a long basketball season, there are moments that will test the resolve of a team. Friday’s heart-breaker, which all but ended the Scouts’ hopes of winning the conference, seemed like one of those times.
So before Saturday’s game against Evanston, LaScala gathered his team together.
“He said to forget about the past. There’s nothing we can do about it,” senior forward Carter Bass said. “We have to learn from it, but we don’t want to put too much stress on one loss.”
Rather than stew on it for days, Lake Forest had less than 24 hours. Against Evanston, the Scouts were able to work through their problems away from the conference microscope.
Their 63-45 victory proved that the senior core of Bass, Ben Simpson, Sam Downey and George Quall were listening to their coach.
“It’s good we are senior-based. It’s tough for a lot of the younger guys when you lose,” Bass said. “(We tell them) never think too much about the last one and move on to the next.”
Against Warren, Lake Forest was tentative when facing the Blue Devils’ pressure. A 10-point fourth-quarter lead was wiped away largely because of turnovers, four of which occurred on consecutive possessions.
Quall said that if the Scouts had taken care of the basketball, they never would have been in position to lose consecutive games on buzzer-beaters.
“We can’t say we lost because of those two shots. Against pressure, we need to be more aggressive,” Quall said. “The defense is attacking us more than we are attacking the defense. We’re making a consummate effort to work on those things.”
This a team that still features two of the best post players in the conference — Downey and sophomore Evan Boudreaux — along with seniors who won a regional title last season.
Lake Forest may have experienced its season’s ebb. Now its time to let it flow.
“We were pretty down Friday. We got lucky with the scheduling (Saturday),” Bass said. “We have to get after it, go out and kick butt like we did when we won the (Niles West) Thanksgiving tournament.”
Quall added: “We got the (bad) taste out of our mouths. We are focused on righting the ship.”