Asa Thomas spearheads Lake Forest’s balanced win at Oak Park

Asa Thomas knows eyes are on him, whether it’s opponents game-planning to contain him or college coaches coming out to see a four-star prospect in person.

SHARE Asa Thomas spearheads Lake Forest’s balanced win at Oak Park
Lake Forest’s Sam Gibson (3) goes up and under the Oak Park defenders for a layup.

Lake Forest’s Sam Gibson (3) goes up and under the Oak Park defenders for a layup.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Asa Thomas knows eyes are on him, whether it’s opponents game-planning to contain him or college coaches coming out to see a four-star prospect in person.

But the 6-7 Lake Forest junior doesn’t seem to be fazed by the attention or feel the need to force anything on the offensive end.

On Saturday night, he was content to set up his teammates early before stepping out to the perimeter after halftime.

The result was a 19-point, seven-rebound effort in Lake Forest’s 84-59 romp past Oak Park-River Forest in Oak Park.

All the attention the Huskies (4-3) paid to Thomas opened things up for guards Alex Forowycz, who scored a game-high 29 points, and Tommy Aberle, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s, like, the smartest player I’ve had in 15 years,” Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said of Forowycz, a senior. “Alex does a great job of cutting and moving without the ball.”

Aberle, meanwhile, is someone to watch: a three-sport varsity athlete (baseball and football are the others) as a sophomore.

“We have a lot of pieces on our team who can do big things,” said Thomas, whose nine offers include five from the Big Ten. “So in the first half, I was letting the game come to me, finding the open guys. Our guys were doing a great job cutting.

“We knew coming in that they were going to overplay us and pressure us.”

Thomas’ team-first attitude is something LaScala is used to seeing.

“He’s, to a fault almost sometimes, too unselfish in a way,” LaScala said.

Thomas had five points in the first half before scoring 14 in the last two quarters, including a 4-for-4 effort from three-point range.

Lake Forest (7-2) pulled away early, using an 11-1 run to go up 31-17 with 5:26 left in the second quarter. It was 43-26 at halftime and 65-41 after three quarters.

Thomas helped the Scouts open some daylight with his play on both ends of the floor.

He guarded 5-10 guard Christian Marshall, who is “quicker than all get-up,” LaScala said.

“I thought [Thomas] did a great job defensively, getting deflections, causing havoc,” LaScala said. “I think that started our offense.”

And it opened the way for Forowycz and Aberle, among others.

“Asa is such a good player, it makes it easier for every one of us,” Forowycz said.

What also makes it easier for the Scouts is having a full roster.

“We’ve been struggling with guys missing, guys in and out and not here,” LaScala said. “This is the first time we’ve had 14 guys dress in a long time. It was nice to have a [full] team this week in practice.”

Justin Mullins led the Huskies with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Marshall scored 10.

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