The tip-off for Vernon Hills guard Stephen Curry is what he sees during pregame warmups.
The tip-off for Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty is what he sees at practice during the week.
The tip-off for Round Lake coach Jim Roberts is whenever he sees Vernon Hills walk into his gym.
If the Vernon Hills boys basketball team, which is heavily reliant on the 3-point shot, has a good shooting night, one of the above, if not all of the above, likely happened beforehand.
On Friday night, it was all of the above as visiting Vernon Hills blew Round Lake off its own court en route to a 66-38 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division victory.
The Cougars, who hit 10 3-pointers at a 48 percent clip, were firing on all cylinders during pregame warmups. They also had a good week of practice and continued the tradition of shooting well in Round Lake’s gym. Last year, Vernon Hills set a school record there by rolling up 13 3-pointers in a victory over the Panthers.
“I told Matt (McCarty) after the game that whenever his guys are in a shooting slump they should just come to our gym,” Roberts said. “They always seem to shoot well here. Whatever kinks they might ever get, they’d probably be able to work them out here.”
Curry, who popped for 13 points, including three 3-pointers, had a feeling that the Cougars’ tradition of shooting well at Round Lake would continue again this year.
His confidence was high even before tip-off.
“If I’m feeling good before the game, usually that transfers right over to the way I play in the game,” Curry said. “The shoot-around before the game was really good for us. We all had a really good warm-up.”
Ironically, the Cougars (8-11 overall, 4-3 Prairie Division) started off a bit slow.
They fell behind 9-2 in the opening minutes, thanks in part to a frenetic start by Round Lake freshman forward James Mobley. He hit all but one of his five field goal attempts to score all of Round Lake’s first-quarter points.
But the game, tied 9-9 at the end of the first quarter, quickly turned into a one-sided affair.
Thanks to three 3-pointers, the Cougars out-scored Round Lake 21-6 in the second quarter to take a 30-15 lead into the locker room at halftime. The margin got even bigger in the third quarter as Vernon Hills hit five 3-pointers and outscored Round Lake 23-7 to take a 53-22 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We had a really good week of practice and I can tell a lot by that,” Matt McCarty said. “We had pretty good looks tonight and we didn’t force any shots. We shot with confidence and we knocked down our shots.”
Sophomore guard Robby Nardini knocked down two 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 14 points for Vernon Hills. The Cougars also got double-figures from senior forward Trenton Fulton (11 points) and multiple 3-pointers from Nate Rathod (2) and Michael Mariella (2).
A total of 10 players scored for Vernon Hills.
Round Lake, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as balanced.
The Panthers (3-15, 1-6 Prairie) were missing three starters in junior guards Karnell Wright (suspension) and Rayshawn Bommon (injured hand) and senior forward Mark Jennings (ineligibility) and got scoring from only four players. And only Mobley reached double-figures. He rolled up a game-high 26 points and hit two 3-pointers of his own.
“It was heart-breaking to see all their shots go in, one after the other,” Mobley said of Vernon Hills. “They shot it really well. We had a lot of energy at the start, we just weren’t able to keep it going.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.