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Lake Zurich High School varsity basketball player Jack Arends (2) looks for an open teammate on a fast break during the IHSA regional semifinal game against Mundelein at Lake Zurich High School on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. | Ruthie Hauge~Sun-Times M
For one of the few times all season, Mundelein is at full strength. And it showed.
The Mustangs spoiled any chance of the host team playing for a regional title on their home floor, steamrolling the Lake Zurich Bears Wednesday night 66-46 in a 4A regional semifinal game.
“We just wanted to run the floor and play some defense,” senior forward Chino Ebube said. “Our defense led to offense.”
Wednesday was just the seventh game college-bound seniors Robert Knar (Northern Iowa) Sean O’Brien (Southern Illinois) and Ebube (Missouri S&T) have played together all season. Injuries (Knar) and illnesses (O’Brien and Ebube) are the reason. With them on the floor, Lake Zurich (15-16) was no match for the Mustangs speed and versatility.
A 30-21 halftime lead for Mundelein swelled to 17 when O’Brien finished a three-point play with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter. Mundelein forced four Bears turnovers during the 10-2 run. When Knar stole a Lake Zurich pass late in the quarter and dropped in a lay up, it was 50-28 and the Mustangs had all but advanced to Friday’s regional final.
O’Brien finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Ebube had 18 points, eight of which came on four spectacular dunks.
“I think this is the first time all year we’ve been real healthy. We’ve got fresh legs,” O’Brien said, who played until the final buzzer. “Coach is never really comfortable with a lead. This game was probably our best defensive game of the year.”
Lake Zurich was led by sophomore Mike Travlos, who scored 15 points. Senior John Repplinger added 11 points.
Mundelein (16-13) plays Lake Forest Friday night at 7:30 p.m. for the Lake Zurich 4A regional championship. Lake Forest and Mundelein split its two meetings during the regular season.