In this Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, Carmel's Chris Duff drives on Lakes' TJ Edwards (left). | File
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:43AM
They’ve played in the shadow of North Chicago all season.
But this might be the week the Lakes Eagles step out on their own and claim at least a share of the Class 3A boys basketball spotlight in Lake County.
The first step was taken on Tuesday, a solid 46-40 win over host Carmel in a game in which an 11-0 run turned a 36-35 deficit into a sure victory.
Now comes Friday night ... a home game against North Chicago (22-1), with first place in the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division at stake.
Lakes (17-6) already has lost badly twice to North Chicago, and will play them Friday and most likely in the Class 3A sectional finals at Antioch as part of March Madness.
At some point, the Eagles need to make a statement against the Warhawks akin to what they said with Tuesday’s win over a good Carmel (8-12) squad.
“It’s a big game Friday,” said Lakes forward Jake Kohler (game-high 13 points and five rebounds). “We put that up on the board in the locker room after the game. We’re looking forward to playing North Chicago.”
On Tuesday, Lakes looked good every place but at the foul line. For the game, Lakes was 5-of-14 from the stripe and Carmel was 6-of-16.
That’’s 11-for-30 from two good squads.
“We knew coming in it would a tough physical game,” said Lakes coach Chris Snyder. “That’s what Carmel is used to playing in their conference. It was good to see our guys respond well to it.”
Lake scored the game’s first seven points and was up 12-2 early. Carmel took its first lead at 20-18, and Lakes was up 22-20 at halftime and 32-30 after three quarters.
Carmel took a 36-35 lead with 4:23 to play, but Lakes scored the next 11 points.
T.J. Edwards’ putback made it 37-36 and Kohler’s three-point bomb with 2:57 left made it 40-36. After a Carmel turnover, Edwards’ driving layup made it 42-36 and a charging call cost Carmel yet another possession.
The last four points of the run were scored by Justin Bergeron (10 points, five rebounds).
“I wasn’t worried too much about the start. A lot of things can happen in 30 minutes of basketball,” said Carmel coach Tim Bowen. “I figured we would battle back and make it close. It was just a non-stop barrage of turnovers, and even then we were able to hang in there and keep it close. We battled, so I was pretty proud of them for that.
“We just have to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
Next up for Carmel is an East Suburban Catholic Conference game on Friday against state-power Notre Dame.
Edwards and Andrew Spencer each scored eight points for Lakes.
Carmel got 11 points and 15 rebounds from senior Cullen Barr, but the 6-6 forward was 3-for-10 from the foul line. Nickai Poyser added seven points.
“It’s getting close to that time of year,” said Lakes’ Snyder about this match between possible Antioch Sectional opponents. “Seeding is next week. Any time you go against somebody in your sectional and come out with a win, it’s a good thing.”