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Milik Yarbrough, of Zion battles under the basket vs. #3 TJ Edwards, of Lakes. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Lakes boys basketball team pointed toward its game against Zion-Benton seemingly since November.
Saturday night, the game finally came to pass, and when it was over, the Lakes players could point across the court at arguably the best player in Lake County.
That would be Zion junior Milik Yarbrough, who scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to carry the Zee-Bees to a thrilling 56-53 road victory.
Zion is now 14-3 on the season and has won five straight. Lakes is 13-6.
Lakes led 52-51 in the final minute. That’s when Yarbourgh drove to the blocks, hit a shot and drew a foul while being triple-teamed.
The ensuing free throw made it 54-52 for Zion.
Lakes’ Andrew Spencer was fouled with 5.1 seconds left and hit the first of two free throws. His miss was rebounded by Yarbrough, who was fouled and hit both shots at the other end to complete the scoring.
Lakes’ Direll Clark had a long, heave-like shot at the buzzer that did not fall.
“We had a nice start, maybe the first 10 minutes of the game,” said Z-B coach Don Kloth. “But Lakes finished the first half and started the second half really strong.
“I think we played pretty good defense for most of the second half, and we got some scores off our defense, which really helped us.”
Zion actually led 26-15 with four minutes to go in the half. That’s when Lakes went on a 20-1 run in which Zion didn’t make a basket for 8:35.
That gave the Eagles a 35-27 lead, but Zion caught up early in the fourth quarter and it went back-and-forth to the exciting finish.
“It’s the game of basketball. Everybody makes a run at some point,” said Yarbrough. “We knew if we stepped up our intensity, our run would come.
“We didn’t want to start the year with a loss and we wanted to extend our winning streak [now at five].”
Gabe Ramirez came off the bench and had a dozen points and three steals for the winners.
“Gabe has been playing really well lately,” said Kloth. “He’s definitely given us a lift at times this year.”
For Lakes, Justin Bergeron and Clark each scored 15 points.
“We showed a lot of good things in the middle two quarters. The group that was in there really came out and attacked,” said Lakes coach Chris Snyder.
“Yarbrough made some big plays for them. I thought we defended him well, but he hit some tough shots.
“It hurts a little bit right now, but we’ll get some of these close ones.”
Next up for Zion is Tremper High from Kenosha on Tuesday in Zion.
Lakes is at Wauconda next Friday.